The Urban Development Department of Karnataka state has sought a report from Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on the alleged irregularities in procurement of sweaters worth Rs 1.72 crore for students studying in BBMP schools and colleges.
Lakshmi Sagar N K, under secretary (BBMP), Urban Development department, in his letter dated September 14 directed BBMP chief commissioner Gaurav Gupta to conduct an investigation according to the rules of The Technical Vigilance Cell under Commissioner (TVCC) and submit a report to the government with their opinion.
The order comes after Dalit Sangarsha Samiti (DSS) president C S Raghu raised a complaint against BBMP officials over procurement and distribution of sweaters worth Rs 1.72 crore when educational institutions were shut due to Covid-19.
Gupta had said the decision was made by the standing committee of the education department to go ahead with the purchase.
The order was placed when the entire country was under a lockdown and schools and colleges were shut. According to the report, 16,167 sweaters were distributed to 14,150 students. This includes 2,416 students in 16 primary schools, 5,807 students in 33 high schools, 4,712 students in 15 PU colleges and 1,232 students in four graduate and two postgraduate colleges.
The Indian Express is in possession of documents that show that Special Commissioner (Finance) Thulasi Maddineni had objected to the procurement. “We did not have schools (open) in 2020-21. Why were these procured? Please discuss,” Maddineni had said in a note to the Special Commissioner (Education) last month.
BBMP had released funds for the procurement with the approval of the Chief Commissioner. However, before the money was released, the BBMP workers’ federation had written to the Chief Commissioner in July 2020 flagging that the sweaters were being bought at rates 200-300 per cent higher than its market price. The Indian Express has a copy of the letter.
Enquiries at a few BBMP schools had revealed that the sweaters were totally unnecessary as students were not attending classes. Also, the sweaters are “sub-standard”.