Bageshree S.

Bangalore: Inquiries into irregularities in government works come and go. But what the Government does following the inquiry, more often than not, has little to do with what is revealed by the inquiry itself, even when it involves loss of public money that run into several crores.

Action taken after a probe into irregularities in 116 construction works at Upper Krishna Project (UKP) – which cost the Government about Rs. 60 crore – is a case in point. While an inquiry by the Vigilance Cell of the Water Resources Department into the irregularities had implicated 136 engineers, from the cadre of Chief Engineer to Junior Engineer, only six have faced suspension. This mode of “selective suspension” was questioned by two engineers at the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT), which has stayed the suspension of the applicants.

In its order of October 30, 2008, the KAT has observed: “…It is the case of the applicants that more than 100 officials are stated to have involved in the alleged misconduct, but the respondents have passed the impugned order of suspension only against these two applicants and four others.”

This case of irregularities at UKP dates back to additional construction work taken up on the project in 2006-07 to favour contractors, although such works were unnecessary. Additional financial allocation had been made for this purpose. The works, which had been executed, were found to be of inferior quality. Of the construction cost of Rs. 84.09 crore, Rs. 68.20 crore had been paid to the contractors.

An inquiry was initiated into this by the Vigilance Cell, which submitted its detailed report on March 31, 2008. The report gave a list of names of engineers involved in the irregularities.

Based on this, the State Government on May 7, 2008, asked Managing Director of Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Ltd. to submit a detailed report on the follow-up action.

When the issue of irregularities was raised in the Council the then Major and Medium Irrigation Minister Basavaraj Bommai said action would be initiated against the engineers.