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BBMP decides to pay Rs 97 cr for works it cancelled

The move is likely to open the floodgates for similar requests from contractors as the civic body had withdrawn as many as 45,781 job codes to bring financial discipline.
Last Updated : 01 July 2024, 01:28 IST

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Bengaluru: In a move that is bound to raise eyebrows, Bengaluru's civic body has decided to clear bills to the tune of Rs 97.68 crore pertaining to works it had cancelled about two years ago. 

The move is likely to open the floodgates for similar requests from contractors as the civic body had withdrawn as many as 45,781 job codes to bring financial discipline, stating that these works — amounting to a total of Rs 7,931 crore — were either "unnecessary" or "avoidable". 

Some of the works in the list include: desilting of drains, landscape development, improvements to roads, providing silt and tractor, school repairs, construction of buildings, drilling of borewell and providing LED street lights among others. 

These projects — spread in different parts of the city — were budgeted between 2016-17 and 2020-21. 

However, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) cancelled them altogether in December 2022 because they were not implemented for a very long period. This implied that the works were clearly not essential in nature. 

Defending the decision to clear the bills, BBMP Chief Commissioner Tushar Girinath cited miscommunication between engineers and the head office. 

"We restored the job codes only after contractors provided genuine proofs of executing the work. Many such requests keep coming even now. But we are not restoring job codes of works that have not been taken up yet,” he said. 

The new decision is likely to come under the scanner. Some believe restoring job codes — withdrawn after a detailed verification — will lead to a new kind of racket. 

"More and more contractors will come forward, claiming they have executed works. Illegal practices are bound to happen. On top of this, the additional financial burden will eventually contain execution of new works,” a retired BBMP engineer said, referring to the infamous 'Hale kallu, hosa billu' (old stone, new bill) phrase. 

A senior bureaucrat expressed shock at the BBMP’s decision. 

"When the job codes get cancelled, the process of floating the tenders and selecting the contractors does not arise. In such a scenario, how can a few contractors seek payments for executing the work? Even if they have completed the work, why is there such a long gap of 4-6 years in raising the bills?" the officer said, speaking anonymously. 

As per official records, the BBMP had withdrawn 45,781 job codes (identity number of works) in December 2022 after giving engineers enough time to respond. The decision — initiated by then BBMP commissioner Gaurav Gupta — helped the BBMP save Rs 7,931 crore. 

What can be noted is that the decision to restore a few job codes was signed by BBMP administrator Rakesh Singh on May 30, which is also the same day of the BBMP’s special commissioner (finance) put forth the note. 

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Published 01 July 2024, 01:28 IST

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