How payments to BWSSB went down the drain

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), in December 2013, unearthed a scam of Rs 10 lakh involving its staff. Consumers, who had made payment towards the beneficiary capital contribution (BCC) in cash to BWSSB, have allegedly been issued fake bank acknowledgments.

The scam that has come to light in K R Puram sub-division is said to be the tip of the iceberg and officials suspect that several crores of rupees may have been embezzled in a similar manner in other areas too. Sources said that since there has been no proper auditing, payments received from consumers have not been monitored.

Maruti Purli, a meter reader, and Lakshman Nayak, water inspector, have allegedly pocketed around Rs 10 lakh collected from 67 consumers in Hoodi, KR Puram and parts of Mahadevapura. The BWSSB has lodged a complaint against them in the Whitefield police station. The BWSSB has terminated the service of Purli as he was working on contract basis and suspended Lakshman, a permanent employee.

The scam came to light when one of the Board officials, while going through the accounts, found a bank acknowledgment challan issued on a particular date which happened to be a Sunday. 

An internal audit was conducted from December 3 to 18, 2013, and it was found that over Rs 10 lakh which was collected from consumers had not been remitted to BWSSB’s account in Syndicate Bank. The two employees have created fake challans of the bank and issued them to consumers. 

A BWSSB official said that as per the audit report, the counterfeit acknowledgements were issued in January 2013. 

“It is public money and the Board will take all measures to ensure that it is used for the right purpose. Ideally, a quarterly audit should be conducted. We are planning to conduct a detailed auditing of all payments received from the public,” he added. 

Consumers paid the BCC (towards water and sanitation connection charges) to BWSSB as part of the Greater Bangalore Water and Sanitation Project, for laying water and sanitation lines in the newly added areas from the erstwhile seven city municipal councils and one town municipal council. The collection of BCC started in 2007.  The BWSSB Employees’ Association president Rudre Gowda says that there is a severe shortage of staff in the Board, which is why there is lack of a monitoring mechanism. 

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