Friday, January 15, 2010

BBMP sweeps garbage scam out of our sight

BBMP sweeps garbage scam out of our sight
City Dirty But Babus, Contractors Bill Govt
Vinay Madhav | TNN

Bangalore: When it comes to initiating action, the BBMP seems to be sweeping a huge pile of garbage under a small heap. The garbage scam, which rocked even the state assembly, seems to be getting a silent burial, with some lip sympathy.
While recovering a paltry Rs 8.5 crore, which is the first part of the scam, the BBMP has turned a blind eye to the bigger scam in the second part, which runs into over Rs 100 crore.
The garbage scam was unearthed by BMTF, which pointed out irregularities in disposal of garbage as well as cleaning of city roads, public toilets and cemeteries. This became a huge issue in the Assembly and the government had asked BBMP to recover the money and file a criminal complaint against persons involved in the scam.
The BMTF report had two parts — one was segregation and transportation of the garbage and the second pertained to cleaning of the roads, public toilets, clearing weeds, cemeteries, removing unauthorised hoardings and so on. The BMTF had unearthed Rs 8.44 crore in irregularities in the form of ‘lead bills’, while the second part amounted to a whopping Rs 101.95 crore.
Apart from the contractors, health officers in each division were indicted in the fraud. While recommending the recovery of Rs 8.44 crore excess money paid for garbage clearance, the report noted that over 70% of work was not done and officials had cleared all fabricated bills. The BMTF had recommended the recovery of at least 50% of this amount and cancellation of contracts to clear garbage.
The BBMP has so far recovered only Rs 8.5 crore, which is the excess money paid for transporting garbage. However, they have not collected anything pertaining to the second part of the scam — cleaning up the city.
In a letter to BBMP on November 4, 2009, the home secretary wrote a letter to the BBMP commissioner, stating that he was informed about the recovery of Rs 8.5 crore. He directed the commissioner to lodge a complaint with the local police station to initiate criminal proceedings against people involved in the scam.
While BBMP took more than a week to act on the letter, on November 10, in two petitions, health officers indicted in the scam and contractors obtained a stay on BBMP filing a police complaint.
When it comes to corruption, BBMP seems to have a new mantra. Just loot and if you get caught, pay back the money and get back to work. BMTF had unearthed a mini-scam, where two BBMP health officers — Dr Nagaraj and Dr Manoranjan Hegde — and a contractor Rajanikanth, had created false bills to claim Rs 1.85 lakh.
They had claimed that half-a-km stretch on Magadi Road was under mechanical sweeping scheme and got the bills. The BMTF pointed out that during that period, construction of Magadi Road-Chord Road junction underpass was going on in that stretch and it was impossible to take up the mechanical sweeping scheme.
The money was recovered from the health officers and contractor. Though the BMTF had recommended suspension of the officers, nothing has happened so far.


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