KARNATAKA

Lokayukta unearths scandal in BMP petrol bunks

BANGALORE May 29. A scandal, which is likely to involve "crores of rupees'', came to light when the Lokayukta and the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force authorities paid a surprise visit to two petrol bunks of the Bangalore Mahanagar Palike here on Wednesday.

The visit, led by the Lokayukta, N. Venkatachala, and the Chief of BMTF, Kasturirangan, found a number of discrepancies at the petrol bunks on Magarath Road and Usman Khan Road. The former, which has a workshop, had 2,000 litres of petrol in excess of the recorded figure. The excess fuel so found in the other bunk was 5,000 litres.

The team seized a number of incriminating documents, including indent books, and found that no logbook was being maintained. It is alleged that the BMP staff fill 10 litres of petrol in each vehicle and record it as 30 litres. According to a source, the annual budgetary allocation of the BMP for buying fuel was Rs. 8 crore, and two-thirds of it was being "siphoned off".

Besides, the measurement of the fuel was erratic. Manual measurement made on the spot revealed that only 700 ml to 800 ml of the fuel entered the tanks of vehicles, though the meter indicated one litre.

The Lokayukta seized small chits based on which fuel and spare parts were being supplied instead of making entries in logbooks and indent books.

The team found that there was little or no stock of spare parts in the storeroom. But a monthly transaction of Rs. 25 lakh was being shown. The team suspects there is a scandal in the supply of spare parts also.

Later, the team raided the offices of the stores and petrol station in-charge officers and the Executive Engineer, who is in charge of the two establishments.

The documents seized indicated complicity on the part of several officers, including the Executive Engineer, Siddaramanna, the Assistant Executive Engineer (Transport), Nataraj, and the Assistant Executive Engineer (Vehicle Maintenance), Shivanna.

It was found that the drivers, Karim and Adikeshavulu, who have been working in the petrol bunks for the past 25 years, were getting Rs. 11 per litre of unsold fuel, while those who come to fill petrol got Rs. 8 a litre. Over 3,000 litres of fuel pilfered from the two bunks was being sold in the open market a month, it is learnt.

Mr. Justice Venkatachala observed that "if pilferage in every wing of the BMP is plugged, the citizens need not pay taxes.''

The Lokayukta Vigilance directors, Vasudevamurthy and Veerabhadraiah, the Superintendent of Police, G. Ramesh, the Vigilance Officer, Syed Riaz, the BMTF Superintendent of Police, Venkatesh, took part in the raid, which followed several complaints received by the Lokayukta and the BMTF about the malpractices in the bunks.

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