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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Siddaramaiah dares Karnataka Government to order judicial probe into allegation of 40% commission in contracts

Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah dared the Basavaraj Bommai government in Karnataka to order a judicial probe into allegation of 40% commission in contracts.

Referring to the outright rejection of the charges by not only the Chief Minister, but also several Ministers of his Cabinet, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the BJP government should accept the Karnataka State Contractors’ Association’s demand for a probe by a judicial commission if they are honest.

During a ‘Meet the Press’ programme organised by Mysuru District Journalists’ Association (MDJA) in Mysuru on August 26, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the Chief Minister had sought evidence from association president Kempanna, but the latter has promised to submit the relevant documents to prove their allegation to the inquiry commission. “The contractors have also said that they are ready to face whatever punishment the government deems it fit if they are unable to prove the charge.”

Though the contractors’ association had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the alleged harassment meted out to them for commission in government contracts in June 2021, no action has been taken so far. “So, they met me again on August 24,” Mr. Siddaramaiah said.

The Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly had accused the State Government of corruption in the purchase of medicines, masks, gloves and ventilators during COVID-19 pandemic. “I raised the issue in the Assembly with documents and sought an inquiry, but no action was taken. If there was no truth in the allegation, why would contractor Santosh Patil from Belagavi commit suicide after naming former Minister K.S. Eshwarappa in a note. Did Mr. Eshwarappa resign from the Ministry for nothing?”

Alleging that demand for commission is rampant in government contracts in PWD, Irrigation, Rural Development and Urban Development department, besides projects taken up in Bengaluru, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the contractors’ association had revealed that the government is sitting on bills amounting to ₹22,000 crore.

He wondered how contractors can take up work if bills are not cleared. He also raised questions about the quality of work executed in government projects if such a huge percentage of money is given as commission. After taking away 40% for commission and 15% for GST, besides the 20% profit for the contractor, only 25% is left for executing the work. “How can you expect quality if only 25% of the project cost is spent on the actual work?”

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