Come rains and most roads of the city are flooded. Some roads see potholes and muddy water all over, some lose their asphalt cover and some others are deformed. You may be surprised to know that the BBMP appoints private consultants to repair flood damage on roads with its own engineers. But the roads remain in bad shape even after that.
In 2006, the BBMP formed a Flood Damage Control cell to carry out such road works. A total of 26 roads in the city were shortlisted for repairs with a budget of Rs.19 crores. All these road works were awarded to the Karnataka Land Army Corporation, and various private consultants were appointed to oversee the quality of the work, along with BBMP engineers.
But, even today, most of the roads are waiting to be constructed and asphalted.
Who are these consultants and how did they get appointed? According to the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurements Act,1999 (KTPP) all project works above Rs. 1 lakh need to go for tendering, that is, a public notice needs to be given through newspapers. After that tenders are given to the lowest bidder for the project.
To monitoring the flood repair road works, on 22nd March 2006 the BBMP (without giving any public notice) sent for quotations to five parties. Out of these five, three responded and the BBMP awarded monitoring contracts to all three of them. The three bidders/consultants were: Concrete Structure Forensic Consultants (11 roads), Struct Geotech Research labs (7roads) and Manasa Consultants (8 roads).
Many discrepancies can be noticed in the manner in which the contracts were executed. The quotations signed by the consultants and BBMP do not mention a date nor the names and designations of the people who have signed. The agreement papers in the name of Struct Geotech Research Labs mentions Manasa Consultants in the text and signed by Manasa. Similarly, the case with papers in the name of Manasa Consultants is signed by Struct Geotech. These contracts were duly signed by the Chief Engineer A M Ranganathan.
The Chief Auditor, K Haleshappa took objection to the whole issue and mentioned that all these projects required tendering, citing the KTPP Act for reference, in handwritten notes written in the pre-audit report in the month of June that year. Pre-audit reports are made by the chief auditor before payments are forwarded to any party. These letters were signed by the BBMP commissioner and the above mentioned Ranganathan. Haleshappa also pointed out in one of his letters Manasa Consultants had failed to submit details about the personnel appointed and that insufficient staff was deployed at the site.
“The consultant has failed to furnish office with structural details of existing road and suggesting improvements and failed to render required services” he said in the letter. Despite all these irregularities and violations pointed out by the auditor, payments were cleared towards the consultant. Furthermore, all the agreement papers were signed on 21st October 2006, but the work started much before in August itself, and advance payments were also made to the respective consultants.
These findings came to light when C H Ram, an RTI activist filed an application on 30th August 2006, to find out about the progress of the road works in the ST Bed area of Koramangala. A resident of the area, Ram wanted to know who was responsible for road works. He found out that private consultants were undertaking the oversight job. Later he filed yet another RTI application on 13th December 2006 to find out the names of consultants, and later asked for details on all the road works in the city. Ram and M V K Anil Kumar, another RTI activist together took the matter further.
Kumar adds, "We wanted to stop the payments to the consultants. But the information was deliberately provided to us only after the payments were made. They knew we would make them stop the payments." Chief Engineer A M Ranganathan was later charged with a fine of Rs.3000 by the Karnataka Information Commission for furnishing late information.
No money, no roads, no records
This probe revealed the process in which the consultants were appointed. “I was sure that there was something shady because even after consultants were appointed I never saw anyone working on the damaged roads in S T Bed. So I wanted to know what the criterion was to select a particular consultantant,” says Ram sitting with a bulky file of documents supporting his findings.
The 70-something veteran looks excited as he goes through them. “I have all the documents that speak for themselves about the loop-holes in the BBMP," he says with confidence. He and Anil Kumar are considering taking the issue to the Lokayukta.
Adding to the pile of information, he points out that the agreements do not mention any details about ‘advance payment’ or the percentage to be received by consultants. But some documents point to the contrary – advance payments have been made and two percent of the total project cost was given to all the three consultants.
According to rules, the measurement book (daily record maintenance) is to be updated by the BBMP every day but it was found that they were not. Ram filed an RTI application yet again on 27th March 2008 to ask for the measurements books. As a reply he got a copy of some pages from these records which did not have any details of the work done on a particular date and did not mention who was the officer supervising the work.
After receiving all this information from the BBMP through RTI applications, Ram wonders how our municipal corporation can even boast of its achievements. With all the improper and wheeling and dealing going on in the Palike, it’s no wonder that our roads are in the condition that they are.
Road works allotment list:
Concrete Structure Forensic Consultants:
- Prime Rose Road, Brunton Road, Church Street
- Vittal Mallya Road, LavelleRoad, Madras Bank Road
- Thippasandra Main Road (80 ft road- Suranjandas Road)
- Lower Agram Ro
ad (Richmond Road-Ejipura main road)
- 8th Main Road (100 ft IRR-80 ft road- Sarjapur main road)
- 7th Cross Road (100 ft IRR – 80 ft road -Sarjapura road)
- 5th Cross Road (100 ft IRR-20th Main Road) in Koramangala
- 100 feet ring road in Koramangala (Ejipura main road- Madivala double road)
- KHB Colony road in Koramangala (20th Main Road upto 1st cross, Jyothi Nivas College Road)
- 18th Main Road Koramangala (5th Main Road- 80 ft road)
Struct Geotech Research labs:
- ST Bed Road
- Kaggadasapura Road
- 100ft Indranangar Road
- Concrete Road in front of Shivajinagar Bus Stand
- SJP Road
- KH Road
- Wind Tunnel Road
Airport Road (100 ft Jn Airport -Suranjandas Road Jn)
Road from Mayo Hall Jn – Garuda Mall- Lifestyle
1st Cross Koramangala (20th Main to 100 ft IRR)
Dickenson Road (MG Road jn to Kamraj Road Jn)
Ulsoor Road (Trinity Jn- Taj Residency-Dickenson Road Junction)
Magrath Road (Brigade Road Jn -Richmond Road Junction)
MG Road from Brigade Road Jn to Trinity Road Jn) ⊕