Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Landscaping firm alleges graft in park maintenance

Landscaping firm alleges graft in park maintenance

The Hindu

Chief Horticultural Officer denies charges

# Call for Lokayukta to probe into the matter
# Officials accused of claiming bills for old works

BANGALORE: A landscaping firm executing work for the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) has alleged that officials were misusing funds set aside for the maintenance of parks in the city.

Addressing presspersons here on Monday, Chaitra Priya, who runs Chaitra Sourabha, a landscaping firm, demanded a Lokayukta probe into the matter. "Because the horticulture department is short staffed, the BMP entrusts the maintenance of parks to private contractors. According to the agreement, the BMP should pay the contractors Rs. 19.10 for every square metre of the area maintained. Though the amount paid is less, bills are claimed for double that what is paid," he alleged. He alleged that some officials were claiming bills for old works.

"I have been entrusted with a contract to develop the Viveknagar Extension Park this year and Rs. 1.5 lakh has been earmarked for it this year. But when I wanted to start work, I found that the park did not exist. It was only a barren land." Mr. Priya alleged.

Mr. Priya, who clamed that he had measured some parks said: "Banappa Park in front of Taluk Office on Kempegowda Road measures 3,900 square metres. The total annual maintenance cost for this park will not exceed Rs 1.37 lakh. This includes the maintenance cost calculated at the BMP's rates of Rs. 19.10 per square metre and salaries of security guards. But the BMP has set aside Rs. 2 lakh for this park."

Pillanna Garden in Kadugondanahalli measures 946 square metres and it will not require even Rs. 1 lakh for maintenance, including the security guards' salaries. But officers have estimated the cost at Rs. 2 lakh, he alleged.

Similar is the case with 49 parks in the east zone, which have been given to private contractors for maintenance at a total cost of Rs 1.5 crore this year, he said.

Chief Horticultural Officer A. Narayanaswamy denied the allegations and said that the estimated cost included charges for borewell maintenance, repair of pathway, fencing, lights, children's play equipment and miscellaneous repairs.

Stressing that the final payment will be made only after calculating the exact charges, Mr. Narayanswamy said: "If some money is set aside in the budget, it does not mean the entire amount will be paid to the contractor. We will pay only for the work executed."

On the allegation that maintenance of the Viveknagar Extension Park, which does not exist, has been entrusted to a contractor, Mr. Narayanswamy said: "It might have slipped our mind. There is some confusion about this. I will have to look into the files."

Mr. Narayanaswamy said that the contractor was making these allegations because the BMP had slapped several notices on him for not executing work properly.


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