Congress accused Energy Minister Sunil Kumar of corruption in tenders invited by the five Escoms (Electricity Supply Companies) for providing infrastructure to irrigation pumpsets across Karnataka.
Addressing a press conference in Mysuru on Sunday, March 5, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson M. Lakshmana alleged corruption in the ₹800 crore project taken up by the government through the five Escoms to provide infrastructure for irrigation pumpsets that included laying lines and erecting poles, besides installing transformers.
Citing the recent invitation of bids by Mangalore Electricity Supply Company (MESCOM) to provide infrastructure for irrigation pumpsets at cost of ₹202 crore, Mr. Lakshmana alleged that the bidders have to pay 5 per cent as commission at the time of submitting their applications.
Quoting a contractor, Mr. Lakshmana said the successful bidder, after paying 5 per cent commission at the time of application, will have to pay another 25 per cent later, taking the total commission to 30 per cent. “The contractor, who would have paid 5 per cent at the time of application, will have to pay 15 per cent at the time of work allotment and another ten per cent before the final bill payment”, he said.
Also, Mr. Lakshmana alleged that the government had violated the provisions of Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement (KTPP) Act by not giving the bidders a minimum of 30 days’ time to submit their applications.
Referring to the tender invited by MESCOM, Mr. Lakshmana said the notification was issued on March 1, 2023 and the last date has been fixed at March 10. “They want to hastily mop up the money before the Assembly elections are announced,” he alleged before accusing the government of twisting the qualification of the bidders to suit their chosen agencies.
Accusing Mr. Sunil Kumar of similar corruption in the tender process of other Escoms viz. Bescom, Hescom, Gescom and Chescorp, Mr. Lakshmana alleged that commission in the ₹800 crore project taken up by the Energy Department amounts to a whopping ₹240 crore.
The Energy Department was going ahead with the bidding process even though rules prohibit invitation of tenders atleast two months before elections, Mr. Lakshmana said.
He said the Congress will lodge a complaint with the Lokayukta and seek a direction for stopping the tender process immediately.
Mr. Lakshmana said the Congress will also be lodging a complaint against Mr. Sunil Kumar for his alleged benami land deal in Udupi district’s Hebri taluk.
Referring to a complaint already lodged by Sri Rama Sene leader Pramod Mutalik, Mr. Lakshmana said Mr. Sunil Kumar was behind the 68 acres of land that had allegedly been purchased in benami transaction days before the government begins land acquisition process in Hebri taluk for setting up an industrial estate.
The 68 acres of land, which had been purchase from the farmers for ₹4.15 acre, would fetch anywhere between ₹1 crore to ₹1.75 crore per acre in the form of government compensation for the acquired land, Mr. Lakshmana argued.
He said the Congress will also lodge a complaint in the regard with the Lokayukta.