Karnataka contractors meet Siddaramaiah, set 30-day deadline to clear pending bills

KSCA president Kempanna said the organisation, in the meeting with the chief minister, also raised the issue of rampant corruption.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Oct 15, 2023 | 5:03 PMUpdatedOct 15, 2023 | 5:05 PM

KSCA President D Kempanna submits second set of evidences against 40 percent commission allegations against the previous BJP government. (Supplied)

The Karnataka State Contractors’ Association (KSCA) has set a 30-day deadline for the state government to clear 50 percent of the pending bills of its members.

A KSCA delegation led by its president D Kempanna called on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at his official residence in Bengaluru on Saturday, 14 October.

The contractors’ body raised several issues, including the state’s failure to clear the dues to the tune of around ₹22,000 crore and corruption in the administration. The KSCA set the deadline during the meeting.

The chief minister promised to clear the bills on time, and address corruption, claimed the contractors, adding that he also informed the delegation of the state’s poor financial health.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, who holds the Water Resources and Bengaluru City Development portfolios, agreed to clear 65-70 percent of the bills pending with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) despite an ongoing investigation into the works that the previous BJP regime had undertaken.

Also read: ‘Unknown official’ demands ₹3 lakh from Sarod maestro

Siddaramaiah promises to clear bills

Earlier, Kempanna alleged that the Congress government failed to clear the pending bills despite repeated requests.

“I met the chief minister for about an hour and informed him of the financial conditions and difficulties contractors are going through due to the delay in clearing the bills. I have made him realise the ground situation,” he told South First.

“I have also set a 30-day deadline to clear at least 50 percent of the bills. Bills to the tune of around ₹22,000 crore are to be cleared. We made multiple requests but nothing concrete development has happened,” he added.

“The chief minister listened to us patiently and promised to clear the bills in the given time. He also assured that the government is likely to pay 20 percent of the pending bills by the end of Dasara,” Kempanna said.

“The chief minister also highlighted the poor financial condition of the state. He gave examples of the Andhra Pradesh government’s fiscal condition. However, he assured to clear the pending bills,” he added.

“I have also taken to the chief minister’s notice the rampant corruption at the officers’ level. The BBMP officials are not responding properly to the contractors,” he alleged.

“We have urged the chief minister to address it immediately. He assured me to speak to the officials concerned and look into all issues we have raised. If the government fails to clear the pending bills in the stipulated time, we will decide on further course of action,” Kempanna added.

Related: Proof of corruption against 13 BJP MLAs, 4 ministers, say contractors

KSCA questions probe

On the ongoing investigation of the works carried out by contractors in the previous BJP government, KSCA president Kempanna said, “The investigation has not yet started. They have ordered a probe to eyewash people.”

After coming to power, Deputy Chief Minister Shivakumar ordered an investigation into all works carried out by the contractors during the BJP rule. He also included senior IAS officers and engineers of various departments, including the public works, in the various investigation committees.

However, none of the investigation committee has submitted its report.

“The government has formed the investigation committees but they have started the probe,” Kempanna said.

“They are investigating works carried out three years ago. What is the use of a probe? As of now, they are not investigating anything. They are just creating a fuss. We are not happy with it,” he fumed.

It may also be noted that Kempanna had made 40 percent commission allegations against the previous Basavaraj Bommai-led Karnataka government. The Siddaramaiah government ordered the investigation into the same allegation.

Related: I-T search finds ₹42 cr in contractor’s Bengaluru house

Ambikapathy innocent: Kempanna

On the Income-Tax Department seizing an estimated ₹42 crore reportedly linked to KSCA vice-president R Ambikapathy, Kempanna said he was innocent. “We spoke to him, He is not involved in any irregularities. He is innocent.”

The ₹42 crore in cash was seized from the residence of Ambikapathy’s close relative on Friday, 13 October.

Soon after the seizure, opposition parties and the BRS in Telangana alleged that the cash was meant to fund the Congress’s campaign for the Assembly elections in the neighbouring Telugu state.

“Ambikapathy is being unnecessarily dragged into the I-T search. He is not only involved in contract works but also farming, quarrying, and others,” Kempanna said.

“The I-T department has carried out the search and is investigating. The law will take its course. If he is found guilty, we will sack him from whatever positions he is holding in the KSCA. As far as we know, he is not involved,” Kempanna defended his deputy.