Thursday, January 22, 2009

Former IAS Officer To Probe RGUHS Land Issue

The Karnataka Government has appointed Abhay Prakash, a former IAS officer, to inquire into the alleged irregularities in land acquisition and construction work in setting up of the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) campus at Ramanagaram, which has been at the centre of an acrimonious debate between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party Government and the Janata Dal (Secular).

In 2007, a decision was taken to shift the RGUHS from Bangalore to Ramanagaram, the constituency of the then Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, and to construct a new university campus at a cost of Rs. 333 crore on 100 acres of land. However, the present Government reopened the issue alleging that the land for the university campus was still tied up in litigation with private landowners.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa had announced in the Legislative Assembly in July 2008 that he would order an inquiry on how advance payment of Rs. 33 crore had been made to Messrs. Nagarjuna Constructions by the Public Works Department (PWD) before the land was acquired for the university campus.

Reacting to Mr. Yeddyurappa’s remarks, H.D. Revanna who was the PWD Minister in the Kumaraswamy Government, asserted that no rules were broken while making the advance payment. Congress leaders, on the other hand, asked how the BJP, which was part of the coalition government led by Mr. Kumaraswamy, could have not known of the irregularities when the payment was made after Cabinet clearance.

Earlier in the same month, two senior officials of the PWD — K. Jayaprakash, Chief Engineer, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL), and B.L. Ravindra Babu, Superintendent Engineer, Communications and Buildings — had been suspended for their alleged role in payment of the advance. The Government had, however, recovered the money from the company.

In the latest development, in its order dated December 31, 2008, the Government had asked Mr. Prakash to submit the inquiry report on six Public Works Department officials within three months. The present inquiry will be against six PWD engineers of various ranks: K. Jayaprakash, B.L. Ravindra Babu, C.N. Guruswamy, K.M. Shivaprakash, R.C. Kodandaramish and B.R. Muralidhar Rao. Superintendent Engineer, PWD, Bangalore Circle, will be the presenting officer for the inquiry.

Interestingly, while one of the notings of Chief Secretary Sudhakar Rao, dated July 8, 2008, suggested that there were also lapses on the part of the Medical Education Department and the Commerce and Industries Department, and an inquiry could be initiated against them.
Present inquiry

The present inquiry is restricted to the role of Public Works Department officials in the case.

The Government has fixed an honorarium of Rs. 75,000 for the inquiry officer, and directed the Superintendent Engineer to make necessary arrangements for the conduct of the inquiry.

Source - The Hindu

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