House panel finds Palike officials guilty of graft

House panel finds Palike officials guilty of graft

A Legislature committee on Urban Local Bodies and Panchayat Raj Institutions has indicted around 50 officials of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for dereliction of duty in implementing road and drain projects during 2008-11.

The officials indicted include two zonal additional commissioners and two joint commissioners. The committee submitted its action taken report on the findings of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the implementation of road and drain works to the tune of Rs 3,448 crore, tabled in the Assembly on Friday.

The officials indicted by the panel are: The then Additional Commissioner and Joint Commissioner (East zone) Venkataramana Nayak and Shivashankar respectively, the then Joint Commissioner K Ramachandra (Dasarahalli), the then Additional Commissioner M V Vedamurthy (Rajarajeshwarinagar) and chief engineers of three different zones.

CID probe
Vedamurthy, a KAS officer, was promoted to IAS a few years ago. The panel has given a list of around 50 officials who, it says were responsible for dereliction of duty. However, it has not elaborated on how these officials were responsible for irregularities. Several of them are senior officials. The State government has already ordered a CID probe into the alleged irregularities.

The Joint House committee is headed by Congress MLA K Gopal Poojary and comprises 19 members. Restoration of Campbell Road in ward 76, construction of a drain in RS Palya in ward 8, improvement and asphalting of roads from Soap Factory to Anchepalya border and improvements to roads of Thigalarapalya Main Road are some of the works wherein irregularities have been found, as per the committee report.

CAG findings
The CAG, in its 2011 report submitted to the Legislature, found large-scale irregularities in road and drain repair works. Of the total works estimated at Rs 3,448 crore, the CAG had verified works to the tune of around Rs 642 crore. It had found that works worth Rs 222.62 crore were implemented without permission. The panel has also found that a number of works had been executed at places not approved by the authorities and that fake bills had been submitted.

“It has been prima facie found that works were sanctioned recklessly throwing all rules to the winds in order to favour contractors. The department heads were not able to give proper justification on the CAG findings,” the report stated and recommended the government to take appropriate action against these officials.

The panel has also directed the BBMP commissioner to conduct a third-party inspection and audit quality of works being implemented in Palike limits.

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