Payments to contractors on hold in BJP ex-Mayor Goutham Kumar’s ward, where Rs 40 crore was allocated for works in violation of tender norms
The expose by TheBengaluruLive of fraudulent allocations of nearly Rs 100 crore granted to BBMP under the 14th Finance Commission has been confirmed by a report of senior IAS officer Manoz Jain. The report indicts the civic agency’s engineers for failing to follow the guidelines, and adds that the process of inviting tenders was also ignored.
Manoz Jain’s report also confirms the reference by TheBengaluruLive to about Rs 40 crore worth of civic works in former BJP Mayor Goutham Kumar’s Jogupalya ward that was implemented by KRIDL sans tenders – a violation of the 14th Finance Commission guidelines.
We had broken the story under the headline, ‘Rs 95.54 crore civic works pushed through sans tenders‘, and had also highlighted the point that ex-Mayor Goutham Kumar was the ‘key figure in the scam involving flouting of Central guidelines’, wherein Rs 40-crore worth of civic works was undertaken in his ward through KRIDL in violation of the norm calling for tenders.
Jain, who is Special Commissioner (Projects), conducted a thorough investigation and submitted his report to BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad on November 6, 2020 – and the report was forwarded to us on December 15.
‘Standing orders flouted’
Jain’s report has highlighted major flaws in implementing the 14th Finance Commission guidelines, particularly with reference to Jogupalya ward, whose corporator was Goutham Kumar. “As per the guidelines of the 14th Finance Commission, the works undertaken under the 14th Finance Commission grants need to be executed through inviting tenders via e-procurement,” the report says, adding, “Standing orders of the BBMP Commissioner issued on June 10, 2019 clearly state that no works under the 14th Finance Commission grants will be executed through KRIDL.”
In his eight-page report which is supported by an annexure of 31 pages of documents, Jain has stated: “The Karnataka High Court (after) hearing petition number 747/2020 and issuing its order on March 12, 2020 (said): “We direct that hereafter the notification dated May 29, 2019 shall not be acted upon. However, the project works already undertaken on the basis of the said notification will remain unaffected.”
Jain’s report maintains: “The BBMP Council led by Mayor M Goutham Kumar on February 29, 2020 decided to undertake works under the 14th Finance Commission through KRIDL but no specific orders were issued. No such proposal was also submitted to the state government.”
‘System will block payments’
Meanwhile, these developments have been confirmed by BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad, who said that if works are executed in violation of the guidelines issued under the 14th Finance Commission, no payments will be made to the contractors.
Referring to a recent meeting with his staff, he said, “I have already instructed all the Chief Engineers in the meeting on Wednesday that if these works are executed, not a single paise’s payment will be made.” Prasad added, “We have also updated details in the payment system pertaining to the entire grants of Rs 95.54 crore. If any engineer even tries to make a payment to a contractor, the system will block it. Further, we are planning to make use of these Rs 95.54 crore funds for some other projects.”