Rs 37-crore lake funds diverted to road work

The government decided to divert Rs 37 crore meant for KR Puram lakes to road works.

The state government’s claims over water conservation seem to be hogwash after its recent decision to divert Rs 37 crore meant for the development of 10 lakes in KR Puram to road works.

A decision to this effect was taken at the end of May with a government order giving priority to the development of roads when the city is staring at a water crisis. The GO came a month before the deputy chief minister spoke about a plan to halt new apartment projects in the city to save water.

Senior officials in the government said the tenders were called under the Chief Minister’s “Nava Bengaluru Yojane” and all the processes were finalised for development of nine lakes. “Rs 37 crore government grant was set aside for the works. The BBMP’s original plan was to award at least half of the project by June, so that urgent works could be completed to benefit from the monsoon. Everything is back to square one now,” the official said.

The government order dated May 31, 2019, says the 11 projects worth Rs 37 crore be diverted to five packages of “development of roads and drains” in KR Puram, Basavanapura ward, ‘A’ Narayanapura, Vignananagar and Devasandra.

Sources in the BBMP said the funds were diverted at the behest of KR Puram MLA Byrathi Basavaraju, who said roads were urgently needed at several places in his constituency.

When contacted, the MLA said development works were stalled in the constituency due to polls and he wanted to speed up the works. “We have taken government grants so that much-needed roadworks can be executed swiftly. The BBMP will take up lake development works from its own funds for which arrangements have already been made. I have told the executive engineer to speed up the project,” he said.

However, the senior official said the entire work had already been delayed by about six months. “Tenders called from BBMP funds do not see a good response as bidders stay away due to delay in payment, which is based on the basis of seniority (on the pending list). However, state government funds would have helped speed up the projects. It may take four months for completing another tender process,” he said.

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