Big bucks in BBMP bills scam
By Ashwini M Sripad | ENS | Published: 10th November 2013 08:44 AM |
The initial investigations by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)into the BBMP fake bill scandal have revealed fraud to the extent of Rs 10.29 crore. And there’s lots more to come. The CID believes the racket runs into several hundred crores.
Sources in the CID told Express that investigators had looked into documents relating to works worth `1,539 crore executed between 2008-2012 in Gandhinagar, Malleswaram and Rajarajeshwari Nagar divisions. “Of over 5,000 works, we could verify 90, and found misappropriation to the tune of `10.29 crore. Once we examine all the works, we will know the full extent of the scandal,” the source said.
Investigations began in 2012 and the CID filed 42 chargesheets against 33 engineers and 31 contractors. The accused had filed 36 writ petitions in the high court challenging the CID probe. On September 26, the court dismissed their petitions, following which the department revived its investigations.
Investigators found that many works for which money was released were not executed at all. In some cases, 50 per cent of the work was executed, but the full amount was released. “The costs should have matched the Public Works Department schedule of rates, but the estimates match the national highway schedule of rates. This means costs were hiked,” a source said.
Probe Needs More Hands
The CID is facing many hurdles as it tries to unravel the fraud. “As studying the papers is time-consuming, we had requested the PWD to depute 13 engineers of various cadres, but they have given us only four. After we made a request to the Finance Department for six auditors, we got only two,” the source said.
BBMP officials are not co-operating with the CID either. “Despite repeated requests, we have yet to receive all the relevant files. So far, we have obtained 7,131 work files and 765 measurement books. We need to look at 845 more work files and 301 measurement books,” sources said.
In September 2012, Director General and Inspector General of Police L R Pachau had written to Rajneesh Goel, the then BBMP Commissioner, seeking records related to the scam. But that had no effect.
In September this year, the CID wrote to the Urban Development Department complaining that the BBMP was not co-operating in the investigation. Things didn’t move then either. “BBMP officials say files were burnt in the 2011 fire accident, or that officials concerned have retired or moved out. But then, they don’t say any of this in writing,” an official said.
How It All Began
In 2011, on instructions from then BBMP Commissioner Siddaiah, the Technical Vigilance Committee under the Commissioner (TVCC) looked into complaints of fraud and filed a report uncovering a billing scandal in three divisions. Siddaiah then filed an FIR with the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force police on November 4, 2011. The BMTF police arrested the executive engineer of the Gandhinagar division.
On November 20, 2011, a fire broke out on the third floor of the BBMP building, where the BMTF had stored documents relating to the works under investigation. On November 28, 2011, the State government ordered a CID probe into the scandal and the fire.