Deconstructing building works scam in BU

Costs have escalated as projects drag on for 8 years; varsity plans fresh tenders

Deconstructing building works scam in BU

In the eye of a storm over irregularities pertaining to construction works of the Bangalore University, its officials have decided to simply move on. The university plans to call for fresh tenders for pending building works that are going on for the past eight years. This means that the university will have to shell out an exorbitant sum to complete the buildings at the present rates, for projects whose costs were estimated over the past eight years.  

Some of the buildings that are yet to be completed include Visual Arts, Dance Drama and Music, Boys’ Hostel and Press and Prasaranga buildings on the Jnanabharathi campus, the Kolar PG centre building and the Commerce department building on the Central College campus. Vice-Chancellor Prof B Thimme Gowda told Deccan Herald, “What has happened is in the past. I am doing the best I can in the present situation.”

Contractors’ undertaking
Interestingly, last year the university had taken an undertaking from the contractors that they would complete the works with the rates as on the date of estimation. However, these documents are not legally valid and the contractors have gone back on their word.
“The undertaking was not taken on bond paper. That was the loophole on the part of the university,” according to the VC and the university engineer Puttaswamy.

In effect, the contractors will now not only go scot-free, but will also get an opportunity to participate in the fresh tenders.

“The contract will go for the lowest bidder. The contractors involved in the work at present are also allowed to participate in the tender process,” he said.

As per data available with the engineering section, the construction of Visual Arts building over eight years is 80 per cent complete and the amount due as on date to the contractor is Rs 36.48 lakh, for press and Prasaranga (70 per cent complete) amount due is Rs 11.05 lakh, for boys’ hostel (50 per cent complete) it is Rs 16.12 lakh, for dance, drama and music building (75 per cent complete) it is Rs 22.95 lakh, for Commerce building (50 per cent complete), there is no balance amount. For the PG centre in Kolar (50 per cent complete), the amount due is Rs 63 lakh. Puttaswamy said that these amounts could escalate for pending portions of the buildings.

On November 3, former Academic Council member Karan Kumar wrote to the Governor about irregularities in the university’s construction projects.

Not able to substantiate
The university is neither able to substantiate it nor refute it as the university officials do not have clarity on the money paid to the contractors or on the amount due to them.
When Deccan Herald sought from the university financial data pertaining to the projects, finance officer Nagaraj Seregar said that the claims on payments by the engineering department were not matching with the Finance department records.

The Finance department is still in the process of gathering data on the payments made to the contractors.

According to sources in the PWD, if the university takes up the pending works at the present rates, it would cost them at least twice the amount estimated in 2005-06.

An official said, “Earlier they were revising the schedule of rates once in three years. In the last four years, it has been revised annually. On an average, the rates have increased by at least 10 per cent every year. Compared to last year, this year’s rates are at least 13 per cent more. One can safely assume that these projects would cost twice the amount now.”

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