BWSSB to order fresh probe into borewell scam

BWSSB to order fresh  probe into borewell scam

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has decided to reinvestigate large-scale irregularities in the tenders for procuring materials used in borewell maintenance. At a recent meeting, the board decided to file a criminal complaint against the errant engineers and recover the losses from them, a source in the BWSSB said.

In 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) confirmed in a report that
Rs 10.42 crore was misappropriated through fictitious purchases and inflating the cost of materials. In this case, bogus bills of Rs 6.05 crore were included for “procuring materials for borewells through an unlawful tender process.”

In 2007, seven City Municipal Councils and a Town Municipal Council were added to the then Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, transforming it into the present-day BBMP. The BWSSB had taken up the task to supply water and lay sanitary lines in the new areas. In addition, the board was also responsible for managing 3,454 borewells. As these borewells were in poor condition, the BWSSB decided to repair them. But the engineers prepared an estimate report of materiels required and the cost of maintenance of borewells “ignoring due process”.

The board’s defective estimates facilitated huge variations in procurement of materials meant for borewell maintenance. No survey was conducted, and as a result, the estimates did not even identify the borewells that required maintenance. Even the indents of purchase had no basis and pumps were purchased without any competitive prices. The suppliers had provided insufficient details of pumps supplied, the CAG report stated. The BWSSB had purchased the materials against fake sanctions during 2008-2011, the report pointed out.

The report further brought out the fact that irregular procurements continued for three financial years, from 2008-09 to 2010-11, which indicated mutual efforts by officials and suppliers to overturn checks and balances. An internal committee was formed to investigate the matter. Later, the Lokayukta investigated the case. Subsequently, four engineers were suspended for a month and half. The internal committee, however, claimed there were no irregularities, while the Lokayukta didn’t indict anyone.

BWSSB Chairman T M Vijay Bhaskar told Deccan Herald the board would appoint a retired judge or officer to investigate the matter on the fresh charges of false bills and tendering, as detailed by the CAG. The issue was taken up as there were differences in the findings of the disciplinary committee and the Lokayukta, he added.

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