After contractor's suicide, K'taka to set up commission to review all public works over Rs 50 crore
The Karnataka government will form a three-member commission comprising a retired high court judge and two experts to clear tender proposals for all public projects worth Rs 50 crore in a bid to check malpractices in awarding contracts.
Also, the government has ordered a total ban on starting works based on oral instructions of ministers or higher officials.
These decisions are a fallout of civil contractor Santosh Patil's death by suicide on April 11 in an Udupi hotel accusing the then Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K S Eshwarappa of demanding 40 per cent commission on a public work that was carried out on the minister's oral instruction at Hindalga village in Belagavi district last year.
Eshwarappa, an MLA from Shivamogga, who had maintained that he was not at all involved in the issue, resigned from his ministerial post on April 14 due to mounting pressure on him.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, "Our government has taken a decision. Public works start from the time of preparing estimates. Tender conditions are prepared to benefit only a section of people. I have ordered formation of a high-level committee which will have a retired high court judge as its chairperson and a financial expert and a technical expert as its members."
The commission will be formed under the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act (KTPPA). All the tenders above Rs 50 crore will go to the commission, which will review estimates and the tender condition as per the provisions of the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act, Bommai said. After the project is reviewed and cleared by the panel, the tender process will start, he added.
"A government order has been passed and in a few days, the commission will be set up. This will be a deterrent against corruption. The judge and members will be named in a week. Every estimate has to be cleared in 15 days," Bommai said.
He added that a provision has also been made that if there are more proposals, then a parallel commission will be constituted so that there should not be any delay in clearance of projects.
"It is true that on many occasions, oral orders are given in the Panchayat Raj bodies. After learning about this, I have directed the Urban Development department and the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department that no work should take place on the basis of oral instructions," the Chief Minister said.
He warned that if someone carries out work based on such oral instructions then the assistant engineers, assistant executive engineers, panchayat development officer or the section officers will be held accountable. In rural areas, Bommai said panchayat development officers and executive officers will be held accountable.
"I have ordered that all the instructions should be in writing so as to have a system. This will be implemented soon," Bommai said. To a query, Bommai also agreed with the idea of setting up committees on the lines of the commission at the district level also.
When asked about the Patil suicide case, the Chief Minister said the investigation is going on right from the RDPR department to the police department.