This Palike scam is a class apart

This Palike scam is a class apart

Rs 250-cr graft in outsourcing of teacher jobs, purchase of school equipment

This Palike scam is a class apart

The alleged financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 250 crore, relating to the outsourcing of teacher jobs and procurement of various equipment for schools, is the latest to sully the image of an already scam-tainted Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike.

These irregularities came to light on Monday during an inspection by the Palike's Standing Committee for Personnel and Administrative Reforms, led by its chairman V Vagish. The committee found no records to show the purchase of stocks and supply of furniture, uniforms, sports materials, shoes, notebooks and textbooks, computers and audio-visual materials.

The Committee learnt that at least Rs 480 crore was given to the BBMP education department, with annual allocations in the range of Rs 70 crore to Rs 80 crore. The Committee suspected that at least 50 per cent of the funds have been embezzled.

The Committee noticed that, in 2005-06, the erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike had called for tenders to outsource 448 teacher jobs only for a year. As per the existing norm, if a single bidder comes forward, the tender process should be discontinued to avoid suspicion.

However, only one bidder, Crystal Info System Services, came forward and was given the contract. The committee observed that the firm continued to provide teachers, even after the tender period ended on March 31, 2007.

The Committee found that the education department used to start the process of outsourcing teacher jobs at the fag end of every academic year. On the pretext of emergency work, the same firm was assigned the task of outsourcing teacher jobs, without calling for tenders.

The firm allegedly did not pay two per cent of the bid amount as Earnest Money Deposit to BBMP. The Committee found that there were no records to prove the teaching skills of the teachers hired on contract basis for BBMP schools. Also, out of 448 teachers, only 22 were entitled for ESI benefits.

Two salaries

In one instance, G Shobha, a teacher, drew salaries from two different corporation schools. She drew Rs 6,880 from Corporation Nursery School at Kodihalli and Rs 10,374 from Corporation High School at Vijayanagar.

Vagish said, “No tender approval records pertaining to Crystal Info System Services were found during our inspection. Also, we found that the firm had not obtained the necessary approvals from the education standing committee.” He said the certificates submitted by the firm were the photocopies and not the original ones, as mandated under the tender conditions.

The Committee has seized about 50 files and will examine them closely to bring out all the irregularities. It will submit a report to the BBMP Commissioner recommending probe by the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF). The Committee has also recommended to hand over all the BBMP schools to the State government “since these are white elephants”.

The Committee recently unearthed similar irregularities in the forest department of the BBMP and sent the inspection report to the Commissioner seeking a BMTF probe.
In its report, the Committee recommended that the top- heavy forest department be downsized with a special note that there was no need to have an Additional Chief Conservator of Forests in the BBMP, when no forest is left in the City.

Reacting to the findings of the Committee, BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel said the charges seemed to be very serious in nature and warranted immediate action. Goel said, “Based on the inspection report and its recommendations, appropriate action will be taken.”

At loggerheads

The 'expose' by Vagish and his team is learnt to have antagonised the Education Committee members.

The Education Committee chairman B Govindaraju has called a press conference on Tuesday to refute the charges. He will give details of the unused funds from 2006-07 till date.

However, Vagish felt no differences would crop up between him and Govindaraju.

Other findings

* Personnel and Administrative Reform Standing Committee exposes irregularities in BBMP education department
* No records to show stock purchase and supply
* Only one bidder for tender to outsource teacher jobs in 2005-06
* Contract only for a year, but continues till now
* Committee recommends BMTF probe

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