Only low-ranking officials named, politicians being shielded: activist

A month after a House committee was constituted by the Speaker to probe a Rs. 600-crore roadwork scam in Ramanagaram, and weeks after a complaint was filed in the Lokayukta court, the Lokayukta police registered a first information report (FIR). The FIR lists three contractors and 13 officials of the Public Works Department.

Lokayukta Additional Director-General of Police H.N.S. Rao said in a release that the case was registered on the basis of media reports on the scam.

Irregularities

The scam involves multiple sanctions of funds for the same roadworks project, violation of tendering norms and inflated costing. A 5.2-km road between Kuppemala and Lakkenhalli, for instance, was billed at Rs. 15.4 crore.

It surfaced on December 11, 2012, when RTI documents were made public by activist Dinesh Kalahalli.

Mr. Kalahalli had then alleged that Public Works Minister C.M. Udasi and his son Shivkumar C. Udasi were behind the scam and the money was invested in the Rasi group of companies owned by them.

The Speaker constituted a House committee to probe the matter in March this year.

On March 21, C. Puttaswamy took the matter to the Special Lokayukta Court through a private complaint. During a hearing in the case, Judge Sudhindra Rao took strong exception to the fact that Mr. Udasi had not been named as an accused.

The FIR registered by the Ramanagaram Lokayukta police came even as the court was hearing the matter.

‘Case being scuttled’

“The FIR is an attempt to scuttle the case. Only low-ranking officers have been named in the FIR. We are in touch with some of these officers and they were in the process of turning approvers in the case when the FIR was lodged against them,” Mr. Kalahalli told The Hindu on Thursday.

“This a clear attempt to safeguard the politicians behind the scam.”

Mr. Puttaswamy’s lawyer B.N. Jagadeesha said: “This is an alarming development. We had named nine contractors. They have named only three. Our complaint had included the chief engineer, the superintendent engineer of Bangalore circle and the assistant executive engineer in-charge of quality control. They have not been booked.”

The Lokayukta FIR only names Ramanagaram executive engineer Gangadharaiah, AEE Nataraju, and 10 lower-level engineers as well as contractors Kemparaj, Shankar and Nanjaiah.

‘Case meaningless’

Asked about the ongoing court case, Mr. Rao said that it would have no meaning now.

“It will have to be taken up by the local court in Ramanagaram. The complainant can implead in the case in that court,” he said.

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