Oppn questions lack of transparency in ration funding

Opposition questions lack of transparency in ration funding

Leader of Opposition Abdul Wajid speaks at the BBMP council meeting on Thursday. DH photo/S K Dinesh

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) council meeting got off to a stormy start on Thursday with the ruling party coming under fire over the release of nearly Rs 20 crore to several organisations by bypassing the transparency rules.

The members of the opposition raising posters protested against the BBMP’s handling of the poor and migrant labourers’ issues during the lockdown.

Leader of Opposition Abdul Wajid raised several questions regarding the move to release the money to state corporations and private companies by bypassing the rules of the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act.

“The Akshaya Patra Foundation has claimed to have distributed ration kits to the migrant labourers free of cost. Then why has the BBMP paid it more than Rs 5 crore?” Wajid asked.

“Similarly, payments have been made to Metro Cash and Carry, Sri Shiva Shakti Traders and others,” he said.

Replying to this, Commissioner B H Anil Kumar said the corporation had released funds to several organisations after realising that the Palike or the state government alone could not meet the urgent need for rations by lakhs of labourers.

“The total number of migrant labourers registered in Bengaluru was about 66,000. However, after three rounds of assessment, we identified 3.94 lakh migrant workers and other persons in need of ration kits. As a single agency could not supply the kits in such short notice, many players were roped in for the same,” Kumar said.

However, Wajid’s question as to “why Rs 11.81 crore was taken out of Lake Department to pay for the ration kits” went unanswered. 

DH tried to reach the commissioner as well as mayor M Goutam Kumar for clarity but the calls were not answered.

Ruling party leader K A Munindra Kumar said though the funds were released from the Lake Department, they were meant for Covid-19 relief and not lake development.

Earlier, the BBMP paid tributes to ‘Nityotsava’ poet K S Nissar Ahmed, who passed away on May 3. The council decided to set aside Rs 10 lakh for the K S Nissar Ahmed Foundation being set up by the government.

Naming flyover after Savarkar postponed

Hours before the BBMP council meeting, opposition members staged a protest against the decision to name the new flyover near Yelahanka New Town after Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar.

Holding placards that described the move as an ‘insult to the freedom fighters in state’, they said the flyover should be named after one of the persons of high eminence from Karnataka who has contributed for the country.

Panels to take up COVID-19 relief work

Corporators, including some from the ruling party, alleged that the BBMP ration kits have failed to reach the needy in their wards even as rigid rules were preventing them from accessing Rs 20 lakh reserved in each ward for COVID-19 relief works.

Abdul Wajid and Manjunath Reddy from Congress said the office order issued from the BBMP on spending the Rs 20 lakh fund from ward development works requires the generation of job codes which is difficult to take up during the lockdown.

Later in the evening, BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar amended the order later, allowing the disaster management committees at ward level to decide on the works needed to be taken up to provide relief during the pandemic.

Rain-related deaths: BBMP faces flak

The Urban Development Department has told BBMP that deaths caused due to rain-related incidents can not be tolerated.

In a letter to BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Department Rakesh Singh has said preventive steps could have saved the life of two people, who died in the recent rains.

“The department had already advised on taking steps to prevent such incidents during the rains. We had also suggested cutting the tree branches. Despite this, the BBMP has failed to take action,” he said.

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