- Published: 15 January 2020
It is being seen as a model for six other smart city projects under way in State
The smart city project at Tumakuru, which has been mired in controversy over allegations of sub-standard works, is finding itself in a paradox of sorts. While the allegation has led to setting up of a probe committee, comprising mostly irrigation experts, it is now being seen as a model for six other smart city projects under way in the State.
On January 10, representatives of other smart city projects will visit Tumakuru to understand its effective implementation. The decision follows appreciation for the way in which the citizen-centric works have been implemented in Tumakuru “with a high degree of quality” during a review of smart city projects by the Secretary and Joint Secretary of Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. So far, 44 projects have been completed in Tumakuru, and 68 have been listed as ongoing.
Interestingly, while the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC) letter to the Tumakuru Smart City Ltd. (TSCL) MD lauds the good work, the four-member panel appointed on November 30, 2019, in the light of allegations made by public representatives, has also started its probe.
The “independent” committee is largely formed of irrigation experts — headed by Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd. (CNNL) MD K. Jayaprakash and technical director M. Ravindrappa, deputy chief engineer of Upper Bhadra Project H.B. Mallesh and retired chief engineer D.S. Harish.
Apart from reviewing and submitting a report on the necessity and quality of the works, the committee has been tasked to “identify” contractors to be “blacklisted” for alleged sub-standard work.
However, top Irrigation Department sources said: “Though the project is monitored by the Urban Development Department, the probe was ordered by the district in-charge secretary. How can Irrigation department officials probe road works? Except Amanikere project, there are no big works concerning water or irrigation. Not only would this amount to unnecessary interference in the work of other departments, but it also raises questions over skill to evaluate projects.”
Other sources said the probe had been taken up based on a note issued by then district in-charge secretary and TSCL chairperson Shalini Rajaneesh in November. “There is no Government Order. It is ridiculous to have a new committee to probe quality as there are already two committees, one by KUIDFC and another by the Public Works Department. In fact, the new committee is seeking technical inputs from the other two,” sources said.
It is learnt that in a semi-government letter addressed to Ms. Rajaneesh, Additional Chief Secretary of Irrigation Department Rakesh Singh, who is also Tumakuru district in-charge secretary, concurred with the appointment of the committee. For the record, amidst allegations by BJP leader Sogadu Shivanna, who also wrote to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, Ms. Shalini was transferred. Sources in TSCL also defended the move to appoint the committee. However, sources said that Ms. Rajneesh ordered the probe based on instruction by Tumakuru MP G.S. Basavaraj after he visited the Amanikere project. “It is permissible under law to constitute an independent probe,” said the source.
Meanwhile, TSCL MD T. Bhoobalan said the allegations against quality of works are “superficial and baseless”. “We ensure that we are accountable and transparent in the works. Multiple checks are conducted at each level,” he said. He contended that the allegations had demoralised the staff.
Quelle/Source: The Hindu, 08.01.2020