Duo take BWSSB for Rs 4-cr ride

Published: 30 August, 2011 06:31 IST | Johnlee Abraham |

Private civil contractors took up order to supply borewell equipment and material in 2009, then forged signatures for sanctioning excess payment from the department

Private civil contractors took up order to supply borewell equipment and material in 2009, then forged signatures for sanctioning excess payment from the department
The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) was cheated of Rs 4 crore by two private civil contractors, who used forged documents to collect payment for borewell equipment and material they did not actually supply. Two years have passed since the issue came to light and the accused, M Lakshmi Narayana and L Lohith, owners of Sri Lakshminarasimha Trade Links, Sri Sai Enterprises and Sri Roshini Enterprises have got away with their ill-gotten gains.

Deep-rooted scam: BWSSB has suspended four staffers for allegedly
conniving with the contractors in releasing Rs 4 crore for the borewell
project in 2009. Representation pic

They had taken up a contract to supply the material, but had actually delivered much less than they had taken the order for. The duo then forged signatures for the inflated bill to be released, and three assistant executive engineers and one executive engineer from the department are believed to be involved in the scam.

Insider help?
The BWSSB has now been prompted to take serious action against the contractors. And as a damage control measure, the board suspended the four staffers. Speaking exclusively to MiD DAY, engineer-in-chief of BWSSB T Venkataraju said, "The contractor was given a Rs 15-crore order for supplying bore well equipment and materials to the BWSSB in 2009. After delivering the first order, Rs 7 crore was sanctioned towards payment."
He further alleged that the contractor forged signatures for payment of Rs 10 lakh. "When the BWSSB cleared that amount, they again forged signatures for the sanction of around Rs 90 lakh and within a gap of three months, another Rs 3 crore," said Venkataraju.

After the third payment, suspicions arose in the BWSSB central office and the maintenance department, which brought the scam to the forefront, checked all the files. "The department immediately issued suspension orders for four officials, who may have been involved in the scam, but are instrumental in passing the payment issuance without scrutinising the documents," added Venkataraju.

Confirming the suspension and the scam, P B Ramamurthy, Chairman, BWSSB has swung into action. "We are making sure that such incidents are not repeated and henceforth, audits will be conducted for all BWSSB divisions on a monthly basis. We will also closely monitor these audits," he said. Furthermore, BWSSB will constitute a four-member team for an internal audit and enquiry to investigate whether the BWSSB officials were actually involved in the scam.

The AEEs Govind, Prakash, Chandraprabha and assistant engineer Shobha have been suspended. They claim innocence and allege that they are victims in the scam. Criminal cases have been filed against the contractor duo and their companies have been blacklisted. A case has been filed under IPC Act 1860, Sections 406, 468, 471, 420 and 32. "A case has been registered, but the accused are currently out on bail," said Parameshvar, inspector, Ulsoor Gate police station.

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