Top bosses of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) appear to have circumvented the 14th Finance Commission guidelines over utilization of central funds for civic works.
The commission mandates that every rupee spent on civic projects should be properly documented and, to ensure compliance, the BBMP had been assigning job codes to each work undertaken. The funds have to be used for specific projects such as drinking water supply, public toilets, drain related works, roads, footpaths, streetlights and crematoriums.
Separate job codes ensure transparency in the system and avoid duplication of works. But documents accessed by TOI reveal that multiple works were taken up under a single job code in order to favour select contractors.
Such lapses have been found in works executed in ward no. 72 (Herohalli) and ward no. 40 (Doddabidarakallu) where nine different works (worth Rs 4 crore each) have been issued with a single job code. Incidentally, the diktat to issue multiple works under single job code came from the top — BBMP commissioner N Manjunath Prasad himself — on October 10 this year.
His order was preceded by a request from Herohalli corporator on July 25 to the then mayor Sampath Raj R. Raj wrote to the commissioner to issue a single job code, pending clearance from the government and the BBMP council. On August 28, the BBMP council passed a resolution to seek relaxation with regard to the commission’s guidelines and for undertaking work through Karnataka Road Infrastructure Development Limited (KRIDL) under a single job code.
When the file came to BBMP special commissioner (projects) Manoj Kumar Meena on October 9, he suggested that the urban development department’s opinion be taken on the council’s decision. But before the matter was brought to the notice of the department, the commissioner suggested issuing single code, sources in the BBMP said. Accordingly, the nine separate job codes issued earlier were cancelled and converted into one.
BBMP chief Prasad said: “This is totally false. As per the government order, if a single work is less than Rs 2 crore, it can be allotted to KRIDL. If the estimate exceeds Rs 2 crore, it cannot be undertaken by KRIDL. A job code may be single but it will contain a number of different works. As of now, job codes are given to all works executed under the 14th Finance Commission so that plan and estimates can be prepared immediately and placed before the standing committee for approval. The government has asked us to tender all works. After the standing committee approves the estimates, the next steps of execution will be decided as per the direction of the government.”
However, mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun wrote to the commissioner on October 20, stating: “If the BBMP issues a single job code for many works, it amounts to violation of norms and it may lose funds from the Centre.”
Job code was introduced to bring in transparency after a scam of Rs 3,500 was unearthed in 2010. The codes are given to projects which would match the budgetary allocation for each ward. The system generates job code certificate which cannot be tampered with or changed. Once the project is completed, codes are put on BBMP’s website for public monitoring.