Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has now directed officials to initiate a probe against the alleged discrepancies in subsidies issued to contractors for the Indira Canteens and also a separate probe into suspected irregularities in urban renewal initiative ‘Mukhya Mantri Nagarothana’, reports Times of India.
Reportedly, Chief Minister Yediyurappa on Monday, directed Karnataka Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Department, BH Anil Kumar, to initiate a probe into the matter.
The Chief Minister has also directed Chief Secretary Vijay Bhaskar to look into alleged irregularities of money spent on the Nagarothana scheme, an infrastructure development project that was started in 2016 by the then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Yediyurappa has ordered the Chief Secretary to submit the investigation report within three months.
“There are allegations that the contractors have inflated the number of people eating at these canteens and are cheating the government on subsidy. Therefore, an inquiry is necessary,” Yediyurappa said in a letter to BH Anil Kumar, additional chief secretary of the urban development department.
Alleged irregularities in Indira Canteen:
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had awarded the contract of running 174 Indira Canteens and 15 mobile canteens to two companies – Cheftalk Food & Hospitality Services Pvt Ltd and Rewards. According to the Chief Minister’s letter to the Chief Secretary, the state government is paying the two contractors Rs 6,82,82,373 in the form of subsidies.
The government officials suspect the two companies have been overstating the number of customers. Reportedly, the irregularities arose when Cheftalk and Rewards began billing the same amount every month.
In addition, sources in the government said that the state government is mulling over changing the contractors for the canteens. The 2019-2020 budget has not allocated any funds for the Indira Canteens and the previous government led by HD Kumaraswamy had instructed BBMP to bear the costs.
Probe into Nagarothana Scheme:
According to the letter directed to the Additional Chief Secretary, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has also ordered him to probe the monetary clearances issued by the State High-Level Clearance Committee (SHLCC) for the Nagarothana Scheme.
In 2016, then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had announced the ambitious Nagarothana Scheme to develop infrastructure development in Bengaluru and other two-tier cities in Karnataka. The Nagarothana Scheme in Bengaluru alone was allotted Rs 7,300 crore. In order to ensure that the monetary clearances were done in a speedy manner, Siddaramaiah had set up the SHLCC, which he headed.
“Between November 3, 2016, and June 30, 2019, works worth thousands of crores have been taken up in BBMP jurisdiction. Most works are alleged to have been awarded to contractors who quoted 32% more than estimated costs,” Yediyurappa said.
The project for Bengaluru included the development of four stormwater valleys in six packages at a cost of around Rs 800 crore and stormwater drain projects worth Rs.171 crore and Rs.1,144 crore, for which tenders were invited recently, will be probed.
The probe will also include the reconstruction of 25 roads under TenderSURE, mainly in Gandhinagar and surrounding areas, white-topping scheme, lake rejuvenation, creation of solid waste management plants and works executed through the traffic engineering cell are also under scrutiny.
Soon after the BJP came to power, it has initiated probes on previous government’s decisions and controversies including the IMA fraud, phone tapping claims and white topping works, for which money was allocated during Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy’s tenure.