Scams tainted many a City father

Scams tainted many a City father

Embezzlements leave Palike coffers empty; corporators stonewall inquiry

Large-scale scams, cover-up exercises and the murder of two corporators have left an indelible mark on the BBMP in 2011.

The year began with a high-profile murder of Banashankari ward corporator Diwan Ali, who was hacked to death in broad daylight at Yarabnagar on January 17. With a criminal past, Ali was involved in many heinous crimes and was also a part of the sand mafia.
Gandhi Nagar corporator S Nataraj was butchered by a gang on the busy Malleswaram Road while he was overseeing preparations for the birthday celebrations of his mentor Gandhi Nagar legislator Dinesh Gundu Rao. Those rounded up told the police they wanted a bypoll in the area.

As if these incidents were not enough to bring to the fore the antecedents of the city fathers, a corporator N Chandra, from ward 62, Ramaswamy Palya, was arrested with eight others for attacking the Lake Development Authority Chief Executive Officer U V Singh, for preventing the latter from dumping waste in a lake. A few months later, another corporator Katta Jagadish was sent to jail (for more than four months) along with his MLA-father Katta Subramanya Naidu in connection with the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board scam.

But it was the mega scams that hogged the limelight. Firstly, it was the irregularities in the road construction at Jalahalli and HMT Layout where engineers were found to be hand in glove with contractor Munirathna.

Munirathna, who was later elected as corporator from Yeshwantpur, allegedly embezzled funds to the tune of Rs five crore. Following a report, the former BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah suspended two engineers and an accounts officer and recommended to the government to initiate stringent action against the nine Public Works Department engineers, including a chief engineer and two accounts officer.

Before the Palike could restore its tarnished image, another probe into the misappropriations in three Assembly constituencies — Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Gandhi Nagar and Malleswaram — unearthed a mega fake bill scam worth Rs 1,539 crore. According to preliminary investigation, irregularities were found in 153 of the 10,900-odd bill registers. Subsequently, Siddaiah handed over the matter to the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force  for investigation on November 4. The MLAs of the constituencies demanded suspension of Siddaiah.

Even before the probe began, a massive fire gutted documents and the entire BMTF police station on November 17. When it was thought that the probe may be delayed because of the fire, the BBMP and the BMTF authorities issued a statement that no documents pertaining to the mega fake bill scam were burnt in the incident.

A week later, the BMTF arrested Idaya Vendon, the executive engineer of Gandhi Nagar sub-division. In the meantime, the government, buckling under pressure from the MLAs, replaced Siddaiah with M K Shankarlinge Gowda. The government also handed over the probe to the CID. The probe may take its own course, but irregularities will continue to haunt the Palike, reeling under financial crisis, in the coming year as well.

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