Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai orders probe into 40% kickback claims | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday ordered a probe into the allegation of up to 40% kickback being demanded from contractors by ministers, officials and elected representatives for awarding government tenders and releasing payments.
The probe was ordered nearly two weeks after the Karnataka Contractors’ Association wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) alleging they are being harassed by politicians and officials seeking a higher kickback.
After a cabinet meeting here, the CM said he asked chief secretary P Ravi Kumar to inquire into the allegations and submit a report but hasn’t set any deadline. “Based on the findings, if anybody is found guilty, we’ll take action against them,” he said.
“I don’t know why they (contractors) have written to the PMO. They have neither given any evidence nor mentioned any specific incident. Despite that, I have ordered an inquiry in order to bring out the truth,” the CM said.
According to sources, the PMO reportedly sought an explanation from the state government about the complaint and the inquiry is a fallout of it. The CM has asked the chief secretary to consider all details of the complaint by contractors and scrutinise all tenders floated after the BJP government came to power. “I’ve also ordered a special scrutiny of tenders awarded during my tenure,” he said.
He also instructed the CS to issue a government order to set up two committees headed by retired judges to scrutinise tender documents — estimates and conditions — before floating tenders for all government works.
Govt mulling e-billing: CM

The cabinet last month had decided this to bring in transparency in the tendering process.
The CM said the government is also mulling bringing in a system to raise bills of contractors electronically to avoid allegations of favouritism and reduce delay.
Government sources said the government ordered the probe keeping in view the upcoming winter session in Belagavi where the opposition Congress is preparing to put the government on the mat on this issue.
The contractors’ association has planned a massive protest in Bengaluru in December if dues are not cleared.
In its letter to the PMO, the association had said that bills worth Rs 17,000 crore, including Rs 4500 crore from the Public Works Department and Rs 6,000 crore in water resources departments, are pending. BBMP also owes them Rs 3,000 crore. “How can quality work be executed by paying up such a large share of the tender as bribes?” the association said.

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Sagar Biswas

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