CM’s ‘halt’ order too late, but fate of works uncertain

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa

Uncertainty hangs over more than 50 Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) city infrastructure projects commissioned in the last couple of months following Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s order to halt them till the state Cabinet formally approves them.

While Yediyurappa has ordered the BBMP not to issue any work orders or float fresh tenders, the BBMP has already commissioned more than 50 projects in the last couple of months. Besides, work orders have already been issued to half the projects announced in the Budget, according to the sources.

Already caught in a political quagmire between Congress and BJP corporators over charges of biased fund distribution, the CM’s sudden order on Saturday has left the civic body in a fix. The BBMP is now contemplating approaching the chief minister to ask him to review his decision in the interest of the city and the public.

Acknowledging the prevailing confusion, Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun said, “We have already issued work orders and job codes for nearly half of the works that were announced in the Budget. We are not sure how the CM’s order will affect them. Besides, work orders have also been issued for major works sanctioned under Nava Bengaluru grants of Rs 2,400 crore in this year’s state Budget after obtaining the Cabinet’s approval.” 

The mayor added that the CM’s order will deprive the civic body of much-needed funds. “If the Budget and supplementary estimates are suspended, we will not be able to meet the daily expenses and will not be in a position to pay pourakarmikas’ salaries,” she explained. 

The BBMP, in February 2019, had announced a budget of Rs 12,957 crore and the previous government had approved it for Rs 11,648 crore in June 2019 with a direction to include the cut-off amount in the next year’s budget.

A BBMP official who did not want to be quoted said, “This entire episode started after Yelahanka MLA S R Vishwanath raised the issue of biased allocation of funds. Projects worth several hundred crores had been approved by the government before its collapse. But this is the first time in BBMP’s history that Budget works have been stalled even after the government’s and Cabinet approval.”

Meantime, commenting on the functioning of BBMP, Yediyurappa said, “Engineers are relaying footpaths unnecessarily. The BBMP has also been spending too much on white-topping which is nothing but loot. My order was not to stop the development works but with the intention of verifying the estimates and expenditure to plug unnecessary spending. I have instructed officials to clear the garbage mess immediately. I will be back from Delhi in three days and there will be no garbage on the city’s streets.”

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