A Rs 550 crore scam in fake bills was exposed in a raid by Karnataka Anti-Corruption Bureau in the BBMP’s (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) Bommanahalli zone office. The scam was a result of a nexus between the contractors and BBMP officials, which has been an open secret in the city.
The Solid Waste Management (SWM) officials conducted a one and a half year long background investigation, led by Joint Commissioner, Sarfaraz Khan. Mr Khan and his team’s relentless efforts played a decisive role in bursting the garbage mafia as the raid exposed fake bills received towards 6,600 non-existent pourakarmikas and a Rs 384 crore scandal in the diversion of ESI, PF and transportation funds meant for Civic workers.
Scam in fake bills
Khan, who has been on deputation to the BBMP as joint commissioner for health and solid waste management for three years, submitted a report to BBMP commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad, who filed a complaint with the Anti- Corruption Bureau on August 19, 2017.
Khan worked relentlessly for several months investigating the nexus between garbage officials and a few officials. He told Times of India, that he noticed a discrepancy between the pourakarmikas (sweepers or garbage collectors) actually present and numbers as claimed in the bills while doing field duty as zonal joint commissioner of Yelahanka zone. He noticed the same problem when he was elevated to BBMP’s head office to look after the entire city’s solid waste management system.
The irregularities became very clear when biometric attendance was made mandatory for the pourakarmikas and contractors. They were asked to bring their auto-tippers and compactors under GPS. These steps also revealed that PF and ESI funds were not deposited in pourakarmikas’ accounts. Khan said, “As a resident too, I know which pourakarmika is sweeping the street in front of my house and when I found her details not matching with the ESI and PF details, I realized it was fishy.”
Khan found out that a garbage contractor in RT Nagar carried multiple ATM cards and withdrew around Rs 7 lakh but paid pourakarmikas only 3,000-4,000 of the mandated 7,000. Some contractors raised bills in name of 80 pourakarmikas but deputed only 40 on the field, and deployed compactors once in two days but raised bills for all 30 days of the month.
Khan also found out that while ESI and PF claims pointed out that there were nearly 45,000 pourakarmikas at work in the city, biometric attendance revealed that only 15,000 were actually present on the field. Garbage contractors were not willing to cooperate at all. They were asked to download an app to track where their auto-tippers were going but they took six months to download the app, which revealed that only 1,800 tippers were present on the field but bills were claimed for 5,500 tippers, most of the remaining vehicles were two-wheelers.
Khan further added “I took the help of a private individual to track the genuineness of the compactors claimed by the contractors. Bills were being claimed for 600 compactors at the rate of Rs 1.5 lakh each but our investigations revealed that only 350 compactors were dumping waste at landfills”. When Khan wanted to file a police complaint, he was even threatened.