Hearing case between ex-corporator and BBMP engineer, HC seeks identity of top bureaucrat who was referred to in a letter written by ex-BBMP chief to Urban Development Dept
With the tiff between BBMP’s Chief Engineer (Road Infrastructure and Storm Water Drains) BS Prahallad and the BJP’s south Bengaluru president and former corporator NR Ramesh now playing out in the Karnataka High Court, more skeletons are likely to tumble out of the ‘civil works’ closet.
In the possible line of fire could be the former Chief Secretary himself who, according to a letter of September 24, 2019 written by the then BBMP chief to the Urban Development Department, had allegedly recommended white topping work in Ward 167 (Yediyur). At the relevant time, the ward was represented by NR Ramesh’s wife – Ramesh himself was Yediyur corporator during 2010-15. During the hearing of the issue, the HC has sought to know the identity of the Chief Secretary concerned.
TheBengaluruLive had published a story titled ‘Former Corporator-Chief Engineer tiff now in High Court’ (https://thebengalurulive.com/former-corporator-chief-engineer-tiff-now-in-high-court/) on February 1.
Former corporator NR Ramesh had approached the High Court against BBMP Chief Engineer BS Prahallad. In turn, Prahallad had obtained the nod from the BBMP Commissioner to file a police complaint against Ramesh, but had not done so and had instead made serious allegations in his statement of objections about the conduct of the petitioner (Ramesh).
The HC, in its second hearing of the case on February 8, had granted time of 3 weeks to Ramesh to file a rejoinder. “No further time shall be granted. List the petition on 2nd March, 2021,” the bench of Chief Justice AS Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum had instructed.
During the March 2 hearing by a bench of Chief Justice AS Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty, the respondent Prahallad made serious allegations against Ramesh to the effect that Ramesh wanted to execute a white topping project in Ward 167 through 2 contractors, in the process bypassing tender requirements.
In his deposition, Prahallad submitted a letter written by then BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar to the Urban Development Department’s Additional Chief Secretary seeking 4G exemption under the KTPP Act and awarding the white topping work to the two contractors Sathish R and S Manjunath. The work encompassed Patalamma Temple Circle to South End Circle, South End Circle to 9th Main 22nd Cross junction in Padmanabanagar constituency, and 23rd Cross, National Cooperative Bank Road to 36th Cross, 4th Main in Jayanagar and Padmanabanagar constituencies.
Interestingly, the then Commissioner Anil Kumar, in the second para of his letter, mentioned ‘Chief Secretary’ and stated that the proposal had been submitted after the Chief Secretary spoke with former ruling party leader NR Ramesh over the phone and directed that the project cost be brought down by another 3 per cent.
This act of Anil Kumar may spell trouble for then Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar (who retired on December 31, 2020), as the HC as taken serious note of documentary evidence submitted by Prahallad which purports to show that Ramesh was trying to wrongly influence the civil works.
The Chief Justice has now issued a notice to current BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad, directing him to disclose the identity of the Chief Secretary concerned by March 10.
The HC order reads: “Our attention is invited to the letter dated 24th September 2019 annexed to the statement of objections filed by the fifth (Prahallad) respondent, which is addressed by the Commissioner of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to the Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department,”
“The Commissioner of BBMP is the third respondent…We direct the Commissioner of BBMP to disclose the name of the Chief Secretary referred to in the letter dated 24th September 2019 by filing a memo.
“We direct the state government to make a statement about the action, if any, taken by them on the basis of the said letter…List the petition on 10th March 2021.”
Update on white topping project
Meanwhile, TheBengaluruLive has learned that the white topping project to be undertaken in Yediyur ward was cancelled by the Urban Development Department.
The Additional Chief Secretary had turned down the then BBMP Commissioner’s recommendation (dated September 24, 2019) to undertake the work under 4G by avoiding tenders, and had ordered calling of tenders.