Lokayukta smells a rat in Palike's solar heater project

Inquiry finds fault with KRIDL in selecting suppliers

Lokayukta smells a rat in Palike's solar heater project

A Lokayukta inquiry has found irregularities in Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) project of installing solar water heaters at 125 homes belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes in Govindarajanagar ward.

A spot inspection by two assistant executive engineers of Lokayukta, found that the Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Limited (KRIDL) awarded the project to a private firm for a higher price and also cleared the bill for the work at 84 houses though the work was not completed.

Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi has issued notices to BBMP and KRIDL ordering action against officials involved in irregularities. A local resident had filed a complaint with the Upa Lokayukta in this regard in October this year.

The project entailed construction of a 3,000-litre sump, providing PVC pipe connection from sump to a 1,000-litre capacity overhead tank and installation of solar heating
system with 0.5 HP electric motor, at the houses of the beneficiaries.

A sum of Rs one lakh was earmarked for each beneficiary and a total of Rs 1.25 crore was sanctioned for the purpose.

The Upa Lokayukta had directed two assistant executive engineers of Lokayukta to conduct inspection. The engineers submitted a report on October 25 pointing out irregularities in the work executed by KRIDL. The report stated that as per the records submitted by the BBMP,only 23 beneficiary families had submitted caste certificates.

“The KRIDL appears to have called for quotations from three suppliers and accepted the quotation from Shivagowri Enterprises for supply of 0.5 HP electric motor, 60 solar water heating systems, PVC pipes, valves and polythene overhead storage tank. The said agency has quoted Rs 5,700 for electric motor, Rs 21,050 for solar water heater and Rs 4,018 for overhead tank. We called for the quotations for the same type and make from other dealers to check the price. We got quotations with lesser price from these dealers with same specification and standard,” a Lokayukta official said.

KRIDL executes civil work and is preferred over private agencies for better quality and less cost. The agency is exempted from the purview of the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act for execution of work worth less than Rs one crore.

Justice Adi said that in view of the ceiling, the outlay for the project was reduced to less than Rs one crore and solar heaters were installed at the houses of only 84 beneficiaries against the selected 122. He said there was no scope for comparing rates since tenders were not called for.

It was prima facie found that the KRIDL, taking advantage of exemption, had managed with the dealer to quote higher rates than the ones prevailing in the market. The rates approved were at least 50 per cent more than those prevailing in the market, he said.

“There are serious procedural lapses even in selection of beneficiaries. There are neither proper applications nor caste certificates. The applications have not been scrutinised properly,” Justice Adi said.

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