Planning panel funds meant for Bidar infra project 'siphoned off'

Plaint to Lokayukta claims ex-DC, 3 others swindled most of Rs 136 cr

The much-hyped Bidar infrastructure project carried out in 2009 with a grant of Rs 136 crore, released directly from the Planning Commission, is in the news for wrong reasons. 

A complaint has been filed with the Lokayukta that the district administration siphoned off most part of the funds by carrying out road-widening work without calling the tender and in violation of the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act. 

According to the complainant, who wishes to remain anonymous, the Centre had released the funds to the State government in October 2008. The funds were meant to “improve pilgrim and tourist infrastructure in Bidar.” 

The State government released the same to the then Bidar Deputy Commissioner Harsh Gupta. “The DC, along with three subordinates, siphoned off the money.

Out of the money released, only road-widening work was taken up by bulldozing the buildings on either side of the road. Not even a single tender was called to execute these works. The district administration has not responded to several applications filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking details on the works taken up,” the complaint stated. 

Audit report fudged

The district administration spent just Rs 80 crore and misappropriated the rest, the complaint stated further. Not only that, it fudged audit reports to cover up the misappropriation, the complaint stated. 

Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi said that the district administration had been evading notices issued in this regard. Since there was no reply to the notices issued since August 2014, the Upa Lokayukta has now issued a show-cause notice to the Bidar DC. 

“Summons were issued to the Bidar DC on August 8 asking him to furnish the information. The DC had only endorsed the copy of the letter addressed to the PWD executive engineer, Bidar. However, neither the executive engineer nor the DC has so far furnished the information with records. One more notice was issued on September 6, but there has been no reply. This only shows that the officials concerned are not interested in providing the information,” Justice Adi noted. 

Upa Lokayukta warning

The Upa Lokayukta has warned of stern action if the information is withheld. “The complaint pertains to allegation of mass irregularities and misappropriation of funds in utilisation of funds meant for improvement of pilgrimage centres and tourist infrastructure in Bidar.

If the records pertaining to this are not received on or before September 30, the matter will be viewed seriously as a deliberate attempt to withhold information in the matter of allegation of corruption,” Justice Adi stated in the notice. 

The Bidar DC and the executive engineer have also been asked to be present in person to furnish the information on Tuesday. 

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