Spate of project reviews in Karnataka brews anger within the Bengaluru city corporation

The latest in the series of probes ordered by the CM is into the city’s solid waste management spending.

Whenever a new government comes to power, it relooks at the critical decisions of the previous government without a cause.
BENGALURU: Within two months of taking charge, chief minister BS Yediyurappa has ordered probes into five projects introduced by previous regimes for the city.

After initiating inquiries into suspected irregularities in two road projects — white-topping and TenderSURE, the Indira Canteen project and the Mukhya Mantri Nagarothana scheme, the latest in the series of probes is into the city’s solid waste management spending.

The government’s decision to order the inquiries has led to anger within the city corporation, with officials and elected representatives questioning the intention behind the new government’s action.

Two theories are doing the rounds on why the government is keen on probing these projects: One, the city corporation elections are due next year. “It seems like an attempt to bring skeletons out of the closet and make it an election issue when the city goes to polls in 2020,” said an officer on the condition of anonymity.

Second, the state government could possibly use these probes to scrap projects and popular schemes and thereby cut cost. “Cancelling schemes and projects without a solid reason sends a wrong message to the public. Therefore, the state government probably will use this as an opportunity to cancel projects initiated during the Congress regime and announce fresh projects,” said a senior Congress corporator.

Besides city-related programmes, the government has also decided to inquire into the Krishi Bhagya scheme. Former chief minister Siddaramaiah, under whose tenure all of these schemes were implemented, took a dig at the BJP government for plotting to stop populist schemes implemented in his tenure.

Retired IAS officer MR Sreenivasa Murthy said that while he cannot comment on the government’s intentions behind probe orders, examining ongoing or completed projects is good as it helps to identify shortcomings and learn lessons.

“A probe itself, if done by a competent agency, is not a problem. It could be good for the organisation to identify mistakes and fix those issues. But then, it is best to adopt a system of technical audit on the lines of financial audit for every project to scrutinise problems after implementation,” he said.

The section of the public is also skeptical about the government’s approach towards schemes implemented by previous governments. Tara Krishnaswamy, founding member of Citizens for Bengaluru, said the developments are disconcerting. “It is important to separate governance from electoral politics.

Whenever a new government comes to power, it relooks at the critical decisions of the previous government without a cause. There could be specific issues that are worth examining, but there needs to be a proper cause and schedule around it,” Tara said.
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