Online auction of BDA corner sites was rigged!

Big shocker: Online auction of BDA corner sites was rigged!

The scam runs into several crores and came to the fore earlier this week

The BDA went for the online auction of corner sites in several of its housing layouts by giving such reasons as Covid-19 restrictions. Credit: DH File Photo

Just how bad can the BDA corruption get? The answer is very very bad. 

Look at this: The recent online auction of corner sites, which the BDA trumpeted as very successful, was rigged. And the culprits were the town planning agency's own staff who acted in connivance with crooks. 

The scam runs into several crores and came to the fore earlier this week. The BDA's vigilance wing lodged a complaint with the Seshadripuram police on Wednesday. 

The scam comes at a particularly bad time for the state government which had vowed to cleanse the BDA of the bad apples and carried out the widely publicised raids to catch the corrupt. 

Looks like none of that deterred the scammers. 

The BDA went for the online auction of corner sites in several of its housing layouts by giving such reasons as Covid-19 restrictions, ensuring transparency, breaking the monopoly of middlemen and giving bidders a hotline with BDA officials. 

The BDA had put up sites in eight housing layouts for auction: Anjanapura, Arkavathi Layout, Banashankari, HBR Layout, JP Nagar, Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout, Nagarabhavi and Sir M Vishveswaraiah Layout. To participate in the auction, bidders had to log in to eproc.karnataka.gov.in, the state government's public procurement portal. 

The e-bidding commenced between December 8 and 15 and closed between December 23 and 30.  

The government had hoped the online auction would be so successful that it would get funds for Covid-19 relief works, too. 

But the scammers were one step ahead. Supported by corrupt BDA staff, they broke into the "foolproof" system by producing fake challans and sale deeds. 

This is how the scam worked: 

Posing as genuine buyers, crooks took part in the auction, offered the best bids and managed to block sites in Vishveswaraiah Layout 7th Block. 

Later, in connivance with corrupt BDA employees, they produced duplicate challans from private banks to show fictitious remittance of the full bid price and get the sale deeds in their names, a BDA official explained on the condition of anonymity. 

In some cases, the scammers altered the location of sites put up for auction. For example, if sites in the 8th Block of Vishveswaraiah Layout were to be auctioned, scammers changed the location to 7th Block and changed the site numbers, too. 

The duplicate bank challans, files and codes were later submitted to BDA officials to show the remittance of the full bid price and get the sites registered in their names, another official said. 

BDA Chairman and Yelahanka MLA, S R Vishwanath, who has vowed to weed out corruption from the agency, confirmed the fraud. Speaking to DH, he said he had asked the officials to lodge a police complaint about the matter and expose the culprits. 

"We were shocked when we discovered that crooks broke into the foolproof online action. They cheated both the BDA and the genuine buyers. Three such cases have come to my notice and an internal inquiry is underway to determine the extent of the fraud," he said and promised that the culprits would not go scot-free. 

He continued: "We will ensure that the BDA does not lose these sites. We have alerted the sub-registrar's office and blocked the resale of such sites." 

A source said all three fake sale deeds were from the 7th Block and each site was worth Rs 2 crore.