Bangalore, Jan.13: Civic authorities have created a record by awarding contracts worth a whopping Rs.34 billion (3,400 crore) past midnight on Tuesday.
They were in a hurry to beat the civic polls code of conduct coming into effect Friday. Thursday, Jan 14, is a government holiday for Makar Sankranti, a major Hindu festival. Voting for the 198-seat Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (Greater Bangalore City Corporation) is scheduled for Feb 21 and the code of conduct bars government from announcing programmes that could influence voters.
The amount is to be spent to upgrade around 450 km of major roads, desilting drainage and tanks and improving solid waste disposal facilities. The civic authorities and the Bharatiya Janata Party government justified opening tenders late Tuesday and awarding the contracts well past midnight.
However, the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular cried foul and said it was a scam.
BBMP commissioner Bharat Lal Meena said no impropriety has been committed in taking the decision late in the night. "It was done due to paucity of time," he told reporters.
Transport Minister R. Ashok and IT minister Katta Subramanya Naidu, who are assembly members from Bangalore, asserted there was nothing wrong in taking decisions at night. Ashok said proper procedure had been followed. Tenders had been called for these works about two months back, he said.
Naidu asked "who are these people (opposition parties) to question us. We can take decision whenever we want."
Congress and JD-S leaders alleged awarding these contracts ahead of the civic polls clearly indicated they were meant to mint money.
"Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s government has become the first government in the country to open tenders at midnight," JD-S state president and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said.
Congress state unit president R.V. Deshpande said: "What was the government doing all these months? We will petition the state election authorities."