KARNATAKA

Official appalled by excessive purchases

The Managing Director of Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd. (KNNL) inspecting records of material stored at the stockyard of the Bennethora Major Irrigation Project, Hebbal Division, in Chitapur taluk in Gulbarga district on Saturday.

The Managing Director of Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd. (KNNL) inspecting records of material stored at the stockyard of the Bennethora Major Irrigation Project, Hebbal Division, in Chitapur taluk in Gulbarga district on Saturday.  

GULBARGA, JULY 24. The Managing Director of Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd. (KNNL), Srinivasachar, described his visit to the storage yards and the weed-filled canals of the three-decade-old Bennethora Major Irrigation Project as a "totally disgusting experience."

Mr. Srinivasachar, who took over as Managing Director of KNNL a few days back, is on a visit to the 18 major and medium irrigation projects executed by KNNL throughout the State. On Saturday, he visited the Bennethora Medium Irrigation Project and Lower Mullamari Medium Irrigation Project.

Inquiry sought

Expressing shock and disbelief over the large amount of purchases of unwanted gates, footbridges, hand-operated concrete mixers, and other items by the officials of the project, Mr. Srinivasachar said that he would ask the State Government to order an investigation into the purchases made over the years.

He said that an independent investigation was necessary to determine which contractors had supplied the material and the officials who had ordered the purchases.

He was taken aback by the large stock of steel gates and the hand-operated concrete mixers lying unused in the storage yards of the Hebbal and Harsur sub-divisions.

Mr. Srinivasachar was told by the Chief Engineer, Nanjappa, and Executive Engineer, Shafi Ahmed, that these materials were not required for the project.

They also informed Mr. Srinivasachar that they had supplied some of the purchased gates and other materials for other irrigation projects in the State.

Bills

Mr. Srinivasachar announced that KNNL would inform the State Government that it would not clear the pending bills of Rs. 9 crores to the suppliers of these materials.

A high-level committee had been appointed by the State Government to investigate complaints of the exorbitant cost of these gates.

The committee had submitted its report to the Government stating that the materials purchased were worth only Rs. 90 lakhs and not Rs. 9 crores.

He asked the officials of the project to explore the possibility of transferring the excess materials to ongoing irrigation projects in other parts of the State.

Mr. Srinivasachar told presspersons at the Bennethora Dam site that an enquiry would be ordered.

The enquiry would help determine if these materials were required for the execution of the project, whether the quality of the supplied materials was of prescribed standards, and whether the rates of purchase were competitive.

Amount to be recovered

He was also in favour of launching criminal proceedings against the officials for making unnecessary purchases and causing a loss to the State exchequer, and against the contractors for supplying materials at exorbitant rates.

Efforts would be made to recover the excess amount from the officials and the contractors, he said. Mr. Srinivasachar was surprised at the callous attitude of the officials in the maintenance and repair of the main sluice gates of the Right and Left Bank Canals.

He was taken aback when the accompanying officials told him that both the gates were inoperable.

He said that even if the reservoir received good inflow in the coming months, it would be impossible to release water because weeds had blocked the canals.

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