Weeding out graft in BDA a tough task: Former chiefs | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), which is meant to provide high-quality infrastructure and affordable houses to the public in and around Bengaluru, continues to get embroiled in allegations of corruption, discrimination, favouritism, fraud and hostility between commissioners and chairmans. Though chief minister BS Yediyurappa had recently promised to weed out such activities within three months by setting up a special investigation team in the agency, many who have closely seen its functioning aren’t swayed by such assurances.
“Many of his (Yediyurappa’s) predecessors had tried various methods to root out corruption but nothing really changed as skeletons continue to tumble out of the agency’s closet. This won’t stop if the corrupt enjoy patronage of the political hierarchy. The only option left is to dissolve BDA and start a new agency by devolving some of its key powers,” said a retired former BDA commissioner.

“BDA is seen as a cash cow not only by bureaucrats but also politicians in power, thanks to the boom in real estate prices. And where there is sugar, there are bound to be ants,” said another former BDA commissioner, who was abruptly transferred recently.
The corruption is so deeply rooted that some officials and staff have started taking even the government for a ride. In the latest scam, exposed by the CM himself in the assembly, BDA officials had concealed around 300-400 acres of land worth some Rs 3,000-4,000 crore, to be illegally sold without the knowledge of the government, by creating documents outside the agency’s premises.
There have been several corruption cases, traps, raids and investigations by Lokayukta and Anti-Corruption Bureau against officials, staff and ministers, including the CM, over the past 15 years, but that has not deterred the corrupt. Barring a few officials, almost all the public servants who were involved in illegal activities since 2004 have returned after some months of suspension.
“A deputy secretary of BDA has been accused of being directly involved in fraud and a chargesheet has been submitted to the court but he continues to hold the post. This way, the government has given him a free hand to tamper with evidence. The government should permanently transfer officials in key positions and send back all those who have been deputed to their parent departments as a huge sum is going down the drain through illegal activities,” said BM Shiva Kumar, an RTI activist.
This apart, a power tussle has broken out between BDA chairman SR Vishwanath and commissioner Mahadev, though both are regarded as Yediyurappa’s ‘blue-eyed boys’. “We have identified the black sheep in the department and issued showcause notices to BDA officers and suspended them too. We are also in the process of recovering about Rs 3,000 crore worth of BDA property across the city. But my crackdown against corruption is not going down well with many,” Mahadev recently told reporters, questioning the interference of Vishwanath.
Even former chairman ST Somashekhar, who is now a minister in Yediyurappa’s cabinet, and ex-commissioner Rakesh Singh were at loggerheads, resulting in abrupt transfer of the latter.

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Sagar Biswas

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