The great Koramangala park robbery

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Parks have turned out to be the new ‘play’ area for BBMP. Work order was issued in 2008-09 for installing play equipments for twenty lakh rupees at the first block park (earlier known as Wipro park). The equipments were however not installed till December 2011. The palike has spent over one crore rupees (1,30,48,825) on the Koramangala 1st block park between 2007 and 2010. Most of which is for the work that was never done.

The play equipments in 1st block Park were not installed for three years. Pic; Padmalatha Ravi

In the era multi-crore scams this might seem like a small number, but the scale of these figures for a two wards of Bengaluru – tells a tale of corruption that could quickly add up to a running scam to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees.

Anil Kumar, Treasurer, Karantaka RTI activists forum (KRIA) Katte and Secretary of Federation of Residents welfare’ of Ejipura (FORWARD 68) compiled the BBMP records through RTI is used by Citizen Matters for this inquiry.

Tenders had been awarded and work orders given to install a fountain twice at the 1st block park. This despite residents saying they did not want the fountain and BBMP agreeing to drop it.

The first time, the tender was awarded in 2008 – 09 for about eight lakh rupees. "BBMP said that they overshot the budget and had no funds for the fountain", says Manvel Alur, longtime Koramangala resident and citizen campaigner. It is not clear why work orders were issued if there was no budget.

"When residents saw the item in 2009-10 plan again, they shot it down, because they were not confident of BBMP’s maintenance capabilities by then, says Manvel. Local MLA Ramlinga Reddy confirms stoppage due to protests. "The amount that was given in the tender was used for some other works. I am not sure of what those other works are," he says.

The same story goes for park sculptures. Residents shot down the project, but two work orders were issued, in two plan years back to back.

Gross overpricing

While fountains and sculptures have not been installed, items currently in the park are over priced. The 1st block park has 16 metal garbage bins and 56 concrete benches apart from the regular play equipments.

The BBMP work order however puts the cost of each dustbin, specified to be made of only PVC and not metal at Rs 6588/- per bin. Records show that between 2008 and 2010, BBMP bought 16 dustbins worth 2,40,000 rupees putting the cost per dustbin at a whopping Rs.15000. Even if you assume they had to replace the dustbins in the two-year time frame, each dustbin still costs Rs 7500/-

A quotation from a popular play equipment provider puts the cost of these same metal bins at Rs. 1510/- as on 10 January 2011.

The concrete benches in the park are over priced too. The ‘Delhi Benches’ (wrought iron) are priced at Rs 9300 each in the tender. All 56 benches in the park are however made of concrete and cost only Rs 5,500 as per a quotation with Citizen Matters.

Different Park, same story

Laskhmidevi Park, Koramangala 6th block. Pic: Vijayalakshmi Bhat

BBMP has estimated 159 crore rupees for the maintenance and development of parks, including new tree parks for the year 2011-12

More than 81 lakh rupees lakhs (81,16,051) was spent on the Lakshmi Devi Park in 6th block between 2007 and 2010. Though the park does have a fountain, there are no animal sculptures. The tenders were however given out for 10 lakh rupees and Rs 10,97,072 in 2008-09 and 2009-10 respectively.

The tender for construction of toilets and security sheds were given out in 2009 for Rs 7,55,051. But no work was taken up till 2010. Anil Kumar found out about this through the RTIs he had filed and questioned BBMP authorities. Only after that did the shed and the toilet come up at Lakshmi Devi Park. Kumar says none of the work is executed as per the work order.

There’s more. Consistently, there are discrepancies between the amounts specified in the tender and the work orders for all the parks. The work order amounts are about 7 – 9.5% higher than tender amount. Anil Kumar claims there is no legal reason for revising it. "It is only on the behest of contractors that these numbers are changed," he claims.

The Koramangala ward has 23 parks. Documents available with Citizen Matters show the same kind of figure fudging in all the parks.

Vijayalakshmi Bhat also contributed reporting. ⊕

About Padmalatha Ravi 40 Articles
Padmalatha Ravi is an independent journalist and filmmaker.