CM Bommai orders probe into corruption charges by contractors

PTI, Nov 26, 2021, 8:33 AM IST

Image credit: ANI

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday said he has ordered an inquiry into the charges of corruption leveled by contractors association against the state ministers and public representatives in their letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This even as a delegation of opposition Congress leaders led by its President D K Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah met Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot and submitted a ”complaint” highlighting the issue, and appealed to him to recommend for the imposition of President Rule in Karnataka, alleging ”failure of constitutional machinery”.

They have also requested him to order a judicial probe by a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court of India on the allegations made by contractors and to direct the state police to take cognizance and to register an FIR against the concerned persons in these cases.

In their letter to the Prime Minister in July, the Karnataka State Contractors Association had claimed ‘harassment’ by ministers, elected representatives, and others, accusing them of demanding up to 30 percent of the tender amount for approving a contract, and 5-6 percent towards the release of ‘Letter of Credit’ against pending bills.

”On July 6, the contractors association had written a letter to the Prime Minister, don’t know why they sent it there, but after our government came, I have ordered the Chief Secretary to get the contents’ letter reviewed by the heads of the concerned departments and if any wrong is found, it should be immediately inquired into, and the guilty should be punished,” Bommai said.

Speaking to reporters here, he said he has written to the Chief Secretary to especially scrutinize the tenders finalized after his government took over.

”We have already decided in the previous cabinet to constitute two committees led by retired judges- for tender estimates and scrutiny of tender conditions, I have ordered its implementation by issuing GO (government order) immediately,” he added.

To a question that the contractors’ allegations are on Ministers, legislators, and public representatives, the CM said, ”When tenders are scrutinized, everything will come out, if there are any irregularities it will come out in the inquiry.” The contractors have not mentioned any specific case or evidence in the letter, he noted.

”It is a general letter, still, I have asked for the inquiry to be conducted.. the heads of departments will scrutinize all tenders, especially the ones after our government took charge. What more transparency do you need?” Bommai also said that he has given instruction for automatic bill generation electronically, based on the seniority and projects implemented by contractors, and time-bound decisions on tenders, as delay may lead to various kinds of suspicion.

Meanwhile, the delegation of Congress leaders in their complaint to the Governor has also accused the Prime Minister of having become ”silent” about this rampant corruption amounting to several thousand crores, by not initiating any action on the Karnataka government, even after a lapse of over 4 months since contractors association wrote to him.

It is needless to say that even the Centre is hand in glove in this vulnerable issue, they alleged. ”Otherwise, the union government would have taken cognizance of the memorandum and action would have been initiated on this rampant corruption, but, so far no action has been initiated in this issue, which shows both the governments have compromised with the corruption.”

”… non-action by the Prime Minister and other concerned authorities really causes a lot of panic, anxiety in the minds of law abiding citizens of our country, more particularly citizens of Karnataka,” they further said, adding that there are also allegations of contractors hiring professional hackers to manipulate e-procurement servers to get tenders allotted to them.

The Congress leader also pointed to cases like alleged irregularities in the land acquisition and allotment of sites at Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA), while appealing to the Governor for President’s rule, judicial probe and directions to police to register FIR.

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