Lokayukta unearths scam in Rs 136-cr infrastructure project

Bidar dist officials siphoned off most of the funds, says report
Last Updated : 01 June 2017, 19:46 IST
Last Updated : 01 June 2017, 19:46 IST

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A Lokayukta enquiry report has confirmed large-scale irregularities in handling of Rs 136-crore Bidar infrastructure project fund.

The report submitted by Lokayukta chief engineer stated that almost all the infrastructure works were executed in violation of the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act and also by paying more than what the bidder had quoted for the work.

The complaint filed to the Lokayukta in 2014 had stated that certain officials at the district administration in Bidar had siphoned off most of the funds that the Union government and the state governments had released in October 2008.

The chief engineer was directed to make spot visits to inspect the files pertaining to the works taken up by the district administration. Senior IAS officer Harsh Gupta was the deputy commissioner when Rs 136 crore was released to the district for taking up various works.

The fund was released to upgrade Bidar infrastructure in view of “Guru-ta-Gaddi,” a celebration to observe the centenary of Guru Granth Sahib. “Since thousands of devotees were expected at Nanded in Maharashtra, the crowd was also expected to visit the Gurudwara complex and other places in Bidar. Hence, the Centre had allocated Rs 136 crore fund to upgrade the infrastructure in Bidar. This fund was part of the Centre’s additional central assistance,” the report said.

The team, led by chief engineer Lokayukta, which inspected the documents in April 2015 found that funds were released in two instalments – one Rs 40.82 crore and another Rs 95.20 crore during September-October 2008. The report stated that the then DC, Bidar, (Harsh Gupta) had requested the state government to exempt these works from the provisions of the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act. Though the state government had not accorded any exemption, all works were split into piece works of below Rs 5 lakh budget.

‘Act violated’
“The works were split only to avoid the provisions of the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act. The files perused reveal that only short-term tenders were invited. Though there was poor response to the tenders called, the district administration made no attempts to recall the tender. In certain cases, single bidder was allotted the work after negotiations.

All these are in violation of the provisions of Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act. Some works were allotted to the contractors by paying more than the bidding amount,” the report stated.

Even as the district administration took up works worth Rs 114.89 crore by 2011, the state government issued an order in January 2011 directing the administration not to take up any more work.

Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanath Shetty said that he is yet to go through the file. “I was told about this case. However, the file has not been placed before me yet. Besides, I have instructed the officials not to place any file before me out of turn, unless it concerns larger public interest and pertains to serious problems to the general public,” Justice Shetty said.

Published 01 June 2017, 19:46 IST

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