Senior government officials are resisting attempts by over a dozen Bengaluru legislators to divert Rs 4,400 crore from the Mukhyamantri Nava Bengaluru scheme to the Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Limited (KRIDL), a state-run agency blacklisted in the past for poor quality of work.
These funds are part of the Rs 8,015 crore Bengaluru has been granted under the Mukhyamantri Nava Bengaluru scheme for various infrastructure works to be taken up over a three-year period.
Legislators are mounting pressure on Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to allot infrastructure projects to the KRIDL — roadworks, stormwater drain development and so on — without going through tendering as per the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurements (KTPP) Act, according to two senior officers. It is also said that a government order to this effect may be in the pipeline despite protests from the bureaucracy.
The MLAs have sought exemption from tendering under Section 4(g) of the KTPP Act — they argue the tender process is time-consuming. They have also told Kumaraswamy that it’s imperative to finish some works by May, before the monsoon starts and that works have to commence before the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls kicks in.
“This can’t be done and we will oppose it,” a senior IAS officer told DH on the condition of anonymity. “Works of smaller size, such as those under the SC/ST sub-plans, can be exempted, but not major works,” the officer said. “Plus, the government order for the Mukhyamantri Nava Bengaluru scheme states very clearly that works have to be tendered as per the KTPP Act.”
Also, officials point out that funds under the Mukhyamantri Nava Bengaluru scheme are to be over the next three years. “So, diverting funds en block can’t be done,” the officer said.
Questions have been raised on the legislators’ insistence on handing over works to the KRIDL, which is notorious for poor execution of projects. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had, in 2010, blacklisted the KRIDL for shoddy roadwork. In 2015, a probe found that hundreds of crores of public money had been illegally parked in the personal accounts of KRIDL officials. It was for these reasons that Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar, when he was the BBMP administrator, had opposed giving work orders to the KRIDL.
In October 2018, the Social Welfare Department blacklisted the KRIDL for shoddy work.