CBI inquiry into scheme to remove silt ruled out

CBI inquiry into scheme to remove silt ruled out In the legislature

Special Correspondent

Congress members, dissatisfied with reply, stage dharna

Pass on evidence, if any, to Lokayukta, says Kumaraswamy

Silt removal scheme was taken up under the JNNURM

Bangalore: Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Tuesday ruled out referring
the alleged scam in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) scheme to

remove silt from storm-water drains to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
There was no need to set up a legislature committee to conduct an inquiry
either, he said.

Replying to a discussion on the alleged irregularities, the Chief Minister

told the Legislative Assembly that if the Congress members had any evidence
to back their charges, they could pass it on to the Lokayukta. It was
improper to hold the former BBMP Commissioner K. Jairaj responsible for

what had happened. The Government would take serious action if there was
evidence about the involvement of BBMP officials in the scam. Doubts raised

Doubts about the implementation of the scheme were first raised by The

Hindu in a report on May 26.

Mr. Kumaraswamy said some of the former Mayors of Bangalore and councillors
were responsible for the scam. The major decisions relating to the scheme
were taken when N. Dharam Singh was the Chief Minister, in 2004-05.

Earlier in the day, the Congress demanded that the Government order a
Central Bureau of Investigation or House committee inquiry into allegations
of misappropriation of funds in the scheme to remove silt from storm-water

drains. Demand for CBI probe

The former Urban Development Minister D.K. Shivakumar, who initiated the
discussion, accused the former Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)
Commissioner K. Jairaj, now Principal Secretary, Rural Development and

Panchayat Raj Department, of misusing the funds. The Government should
immediately arrest Mr. Jairaj and order a CBI inquiry into what Mr.
Shivakumar described as a scam.

The silt removal scheme was taken up under the Jawaharlal Nehru National

Urban Renewal Mission (JNNRUM). Mr. Jairaj, as BBMP Commissioner, had
claimed that 14.42 cubic meters (3.90 lakh lorry-loads) of silt had been
removed from drains and transported to sites outside the city.

Quoting from a reply given to Bangalore Urban District in-charge Minister
R. Ashok, Mr. Shivakumar said the silt was claimed to have been dumped on
land belonging to Bangalore University, Railway waste-yards, low-lying

areas of Okalipuram in Bangalore and Ramanagaram. But the Railways and the
university authorities denied this.

According to the agreement signed for the scheme, the BBMP had to dump the
silt on land notified for the purpose. So far, no land had been notified

and no records had been maintained on the removal of silt, he said.
‘Rules flouted’

The official had hired consultants at exorbitant prices and entrusted the
remodelling of storm-water drains connecting all the four major valleys

— Koramangala, Challaghatta, Hebbal and Vrishabhavathi — to
contractors at very high prices. Rules had been flouted and no legislators
had been consulted, he said.

Mr. Shivakumar was against the Lokayukta being asked to conduct an inquiry

into the misuse of funds sanctioned by the Centre. Mr. Ashok had already
acknowledged the poor quality of work and misuse of funds by BBMP
officials. Why was the Government hesitating to order a CBI inquiry, he

asked.

V. Somanna (Congress) said there were 15 packages under the scheme and
sought details of work executed by the BBMP. The Government should cancel
all related contracts and review the scheme. Despite spending crores of

rupees, drains were clogged in many areas of Bangalore, he said. House
panel sought

Leader of the Opposition N. Dharam Singh, R. Roshan Baig, Dinesh Gundu Rao,
R. Ramalinga Reddy and N.L. Narendra Babu (all Congress) said a big mafia

was behind the scam and demanded a CBI inquiry. They also wanted a House
committee set up to inspect the work done so far.

Mr. Gundu Rao maintained that nearly 50 per cent of the funds had been
misappropriated.

Dissatisfied with the reply of the Chief Minister, the Congress members
staged a dharna even as the presiding officer adjourned the proceedings
sine die .

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Filed under JNNURM, Urban reforms Agenda

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