Cong’s Krishna Byre Gowda calls for review of BDA award to ad agency
BDA chief and MLA SR Vishwanath defends tender, calls for ad policy for city
That two key agencies in charge of the city’s development are working at cross-purposes was highlighted when Congress MLA Krishna Byre Gowda questioned the BDA’s move to allow a private agency to install 147 hoardings beneath the Hebbal flyover. BBMP has banned private hoardings in its limits, but in a peculiar case of jurisdiction BDA has the rights over the flyover and the related space as it constructed the flyover.
As per information provided by BDA to the state assembly, the private agency, Avinash Ads, has in return to maintain the area by providing a green lawn, planting ornamental trees and installing benches at a cost of Rs 98 lakh.
Speaking in the assembly on Tuesday, Byre Gowda said the state government’s move in the name of public-private partnership was nothing but looting the taxpayers.
He claimed that out of the 147 hoardings, around 54 are overhead hoardings. One overhead hoarding will be rented out by the agency at a cost of Rs 1 lakh, which means 54 hoardings will be rented out at a cost of Rs 54 lakh. “There is no public benefit seen in this project, or the government should explain what the public benefit in this project is. The government should not help private agencies loot money in the name of public-private partnership projects. The government should review the project as it is just a money-making and money-looting project,” he alleged.
Will inform CM: Minister
Law Minister G Madhuswamy, in the absence of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, replied, “The project has been awarded after tenders were called by BDA. and Avinash Ads is the agency which has been awarded the contract. According to our estimates, the agency generates revenue income of Rs 200 crore. BDA estimates that around Rs 40 lakh will be spent on maintenance of the area.”
The Law Minister added, “We agree that he will have a profitable business but he has won the tender and he will be paying Rs 1.1 crore to BDA for a period of 5 years. We agree that BDA has given him permission to install 147 hoardings and we request opposition leaders to provide suggestions to the state government so that whatever steps are required can be initiated. I will bring all the concerns raised by the opposition leaders before the Chief Minister to review the tender as the agreement between BDA and Avinash Ads is for 30 years. However, I do not know how the government can intervene in it.”
The Minister pointed out that the ad agency has approached the High Court and got an interim order prohibiting any interference in the project.
Byre Gowda said he was ready to sit with the government to review the project. He said, “The agency expects around Rs 2.5 crore in monthly revenues. It has obtain a stay order from the court fearing that the tender will be scrutinized in the legislative assembly. I am not commenting on the court’s order, and I am not questioning the agency’s making money from the project. But public money should not be looted in the name of public-private partnership projects.”
‘File review petition’
The Congress leader urged the government to file a review petition in the High Court to vacate the stay order. “My intention is that BDA should get more revenues from this project, instead of just Rs 1 crore,” he said.
Participating in the discussion, BDA chairman and Yelahanka MLA SR Vishwanath said the Hebbal flyover is the only location where BDA has allowed hoardings under public-private partnership.
Vishwanath said, “I have seen only 7 to 8 hoardings at the location. If we go by the number of 147 hoardings, the entire Hebbal flyover would be covered by hoardings. Further, there is a policy pending before the Urban Development Department. The state government has allowed hoardings in the name of public-private partnership projects like construction of toilets, bus shelters and police chaukis. In return, the awarded agency needs to pay ground rent to BBMP and BDA. The information which I have got is that around 1,000 bus shelters have been constructed, out of which ground rents haven’t being paid for 800 bus shelters. Hence, an advertisement policy needs to be adopted for Bengaluru.”