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Civic engineers' strike set to delay pending projects

Around 500 civic engineers went on an indefinite tool down strike from yesterday demanding release of a senior colleague, who was arrested by Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) for his alleged involvement in the Rs 3,200-crore BBMP funds scam last Friday.

If some BBMP engineers have resorted to a tool down strike, some have decided to go on a mass leave to mount pressure on the palike to take back the case from the BMTF and hand it over to the Lokayukta or an internal investigation team.

The BMTF has been investigating the files related to the scam highlighted by the Technical Vigilance Committee (TVC) report   that nailed three constituencies of financial misappropriation. But the engineer-in-chief to BBMP, B T Ramesh, says that without conducting a probe, BMTF has hurriedly detained chief executive engineer Idiya Vendon,  working in the Gandhi Nagar constituency merely on the basis of the TVC.

"If the same thing continues, all the engineers will be in trouble, and it will have a cascading effect on all BBMP projects. This arrest by BMTF police is not justified, because they have not given prior notices to the engineer or for that matter to the Palike. We cannot accept this," said Ramesh.

Justifying their demand to withdraw the case from the BMTF, the engineers said there is an apt technical wing to probe such cases. "Merely on the basis of TVC report, they cannot treat us like criminals. They too should have conducted spot inspections and then arrived at a conclusion," said B T Ramesh, engineer- in-chief, BBMP.

BBMP engineers have several projects to finish on timse. The BBMP is already drawing flak from the public for failing to fix the potholes. They have also missed the deadline of some underpass projects, which were due in 2010. Lashing it out at BBMP for failing to protect them, K T Nagraj, Chief Engineer, BBMP, said, "The BBMP is responsible for harassment from BMTF. In the first place, the civic body should not have given the case to them, as BMTF doesn't have any separate wing to study projects and carry out inspection."

BBMP Commissioner H Siddhaiah, who had earlier claimed that he was snubbed by the BMTF chief, apparently does not want to get into any further controversy. He maintained a studied silence over the controversial arrest. He, however, offered a suggestion to the embattled in engineer. "There is only one option before Idiya Vendon. He has to fight this in the court of law," he said.

A highly-placed source in the BMTF said that the body was keeping vigil on the 38 BBMP officials. "We may soon crackdown on these officials.

"Vendon was picked up for a spot check and was later detained. In the evening, he was taken to the Bowring hospital for medical test and then taken to jail on Friday," said the source.

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