On Thursday, the Karnataka Anti-Corruption Bureau raided the BBMP zonal office in Bommanahalli and exposed a massive scam of the garbage mafia by revealing the nexus between the contractors and BBMP officials. Bengaluru's garbage mafia is an open secret and almost every resident of Bengaluru is disgruntled with the way the civic body - Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike functions. However, despite the knowledge or suspicion of the existence of a garbage mafia, no action was apparently taken till now.
One of the longest investigations conducted by a senior BBMP official within the organisation resulted in the BBMP Bommanahalli Zone's Joint Commissioner being accused of a fake bills scam of Rs 550 crore, TOI reported.
BBMP Joint Commissioner for Solid Waste Management, Sarfaraz Khan led the investigation for one-an-a-half years and unearthed that fake bills raised towards 6,600 non-existent pourakarmikas and a Rs 384 crore discrepancy in the diversion of insurance and provident fund money of non-existent pourakarmikas, were in the works in the BBMP's Bommanahalli zonal office, the report stated.
Sarfaraz Khan blew the whistle on the garbage mafia and submitted a report to the BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad, who in turn filed a complaint with the Anti Corruption Bureau on August 19, 2017.
Speaking to TOI, Sarfaraz Khan said that it took him several months to unravel the nexus between garbage contractors and a few BBMP officials. “I was deputed in Yelahanka zone as the zonal joint commissioner and was handling 11 wards. I used to be on the field every morning to check pourakarmikas’ attendance and noticed a variation in the numbers as claimed in the bills. The same exercise was conducted after I was elevated to BBMP’s head office to look after the entire city’s solid waste management,” he said.
It became easier for Khan to investigate the scam after the pourakarmikas were mandated to mark their biometric attendance every day. Contractors were asked to bring in their auto tippers and compactors and GPS systems were installed in them. These measures led Sarfaraz Khan to uncover that PF and ESI funds were not being deposited in pourakarmikas’ accounts. This raised further suspicion and Sarfaraz Khan decided to ask the pourakarmikas near his house for their ESI and PF details, TOI reported.
When he obtained their details, it did not match the details in the BBMP database.
Khan also found that a garbage contractor in RT Nagar carried multiple ATM cards and withdrew around Rs 7 lakh from different accounts but paid pourakarmikas only Rs 3,000-4,000 as against the mandated Rs 7,000 per month.
He also uncovered that the contractors were raising bills in the name of 80 pourakarmikas but deputing only 40 on the ground, and deploying compactors once in two days and raising bills for all 30 days of the month, the report added.
Sarfaraz Khan then realised that nearly 45,000 pourakarmikas were working in the city according to biometric details but only 15,000 were on the field. He also found that bills were being raised for 600 compactors but the contractors were deploying only 350 of them and dumping mixed waste in landfills.
During the course of the investigation, Sarfaraz Khan also received threats to his life when he decided to file police complaints, the report stated. Khan submitted these findings to the Commissioner and after 1.5 years since the ACB received the complaint, they were able to raid the Bommanahalli Zone office on Thursday and seized several documents.
An ACB official said that the BBMP officers at the Bommanahalli zonal office were not deputed to Bommanahalli zone when the scam took place. "We will verify everything and then make necessary arrests," the ACB officer added.