Ex-Mayor Goutham Kumar is key figure in scam involving flouting of Central guidelines
Rs 40-crore works were undertaken in Goutham Kumar’s ward through KRIDL, in violation of norm calling for tenders
In response to a representation from TheBengaluruLive, BBMP Commissioner Manjunatha Prasad has ordered a report
A nearly Rs 100-crore scam involving brazen disregard of the need to call for tenders in carrying out civic works is out in the open, thanks to the year-long persistence of TheBengaluruLive. We have been chasing this sordid story since October 2019, when BJP corporator M Goutham Kumar became the BBMP Mayor.
The scam goes back to when Goutham Kumar wrote a letter to Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa demanding that a sum of Rs 75 crore, which was available in the district in-charge minister’s funds, be transferred to the Mayor’s account. The requisition was made on the grounds that several areas in Bengaluru were flood-affected and mentioned the names of fellow-corporators who were demanding the grants. However, while there were several lake-breaching incidents reported from Yelahanka, Rajarajeshwari Nagar and Hulimavu, these areas were never allotted the grants, which were instead diverted to the Mayor’s ward of Jogupalya.
Thebengalurulive had filed an RTI application seeking relevant information, but no reply was given. Later, in July, BBMP said it had cancelled all the job codes pertaining to the works being undertaken in the Mayor’s ward.
However, an insider provided a tip-off that the cancelled job codes had been revived under the Centre’s 14th Finance Commission grants, and works of around Rs 40 crore were being executed in Goutham Kumar’s ward.
Council played Mayor’s tune
In totality, the scam pertains to civic works to the tune of Rs 95.54 crore, and all 198 ex-corporators are by extension responsible for misusing taxpayers’ money and flouting all the rules and guidelines of the 14th Finance Commission which call for works to be executed via tenders.
The guidelines clearly state that no works can be undertaken without the action plan being approved by the state government and without inviting tenders. But the BBMP council, in its meeting chaired by Goutham Kumar on May 28, 2020, directed the Commissioner to, “awaiting the approval of the Council, undertake the works through KRIDL by giving technical and administrative approval.”
Interestingly, the then BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar also flouted the norms and joined with the elected representatives to undertake the works through KRIDL.
Prior to that, the then BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad in his order of June 18, 2019 had clearly mentioned: “Works which are announced in the budget presented in the year 2019-20 (except works under the 14th Finance Commission, Swachh Bharat mission and those which are approved by the state government) will be executed through KRIDL by following norms by sending those files to the concerned standing committees.”
In fact, the elected representatives under the leadership of then Mayor Goutham Kumar diverted funds sanctioned for various works under the 14th Finance Commission from various wards to his own Jogupalya ward (Rs 40 crore), with the remainder going to other wards – all this without obtaining any approvals from the state government. Furthermore, the works in his ward were executed through KRIDL, which is a violation of Central government guidelines.
After a nearly year-long investigation, ThebengaluruLive made a representation to the current BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad on September 29, 2020, bringing all these issues to his notice and demanding a fair inquiry in the interests of providing justice to the city’s taxpayers.
In response to TheBengaluruLive‘s plea, Prasad directed another IAS officer, Special Commissioner (Projects) Manoz Jain, to submit a report, which has been placed before the Commissioner.
Mum’s the word
TheBengaluruLive sent a message to former BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar, drawing attention to its story, and pointing to his failure to update the Council about the 14th Finance Commission’s guidelines. However, there was no response from him to our SMS, WhatsApp message and even our phone calls. Former Mayor Goutham Kumar too did not respond to our queries.
The images below show the wards for which Rs 95.54 crore was diverted by flouting 14th Finance Commission guidelines.