It took the tragic death of 40-year-old Subramani for Bengaluru's civic body to swing into action and allocate money to pourakarmikas who were not paid for seven months.
In the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Council meeting held on Thursday shocking details regarding the discrepancies in allocation of funds for the pourakarmikas emerged.
Amid high drama, Bengaluru Mayor Sampath Raj questioned the Zonal-level Joint Commissioners, who are responsible for ensuring that the pourakarmikas receive their pay every month.
The Chief Accounting Officer Madhav said that Rs 27 crore had been allocated per month for the payment of salaries of pourakarmikas since January this year. A whopping Rs 163 crore was allocated between January and June for the payments. However, the pourakarmikas were not paid their dues.
“The BBMP has so far allocated Rs 163 crore for the payment of salaries. Joint Commissioners at the zonal level have received payments from the BBMP and they have not disbursed the money,” CAO Khandari said.
The Joint Commissioners, however, said that there was a serious problem in the biometric registration of the pourakarmikas and only those had been employed by contractors before were being paid.
“According to the state government, there has to be one pourakarmika for every 700 houses. We are not authorized to pay those who were registered additionally. Hence, the pourakarmikas were not paid. When the biometric system started a lot of people who were not pourakarmikas before came and registered themselves. This did not tally with the official figures we had. That’s why they were not paid,” said Ashok, Joint Commissioner, East Zone.
In another shocking revelation, the council members learnt that the pourakarmikas have not been paid their Provident Fund and medical insurance money either. According to a BBMP official in the accounting department, the Joint Commissioners across the eight zones in Bengaluru used less than Rs 100 crores of the Rs 163 crores that was allotted. The rest of the money is the unpaid salaries and unpaid PF and ESI,” the senior official said.
“Subramani committed suicide and only then the BBMP officials paid the salaries of pourkarmikas. If Subramani had met with an accident, then the BBMP would have been doubly shamed because the officials have withheld the PF and ESI as well. The officials must pay all pourakarmikas who worked even if they were not under the 1:700 ratio,” Leader of Opposition in the Council, Manjunath Reddy said.
According to BBMP figures, 3,341 pourakarmikas have been working for less than a year and the BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad had decided to fire these workers after their salary payments were settled.
The corporators urged the Commissioner to reconsider and allow them to continue. “We have to take a call, otherwise the issue will continue. Depending on the need in every ward, decisions will be made whether we should keep or relieve them of their duties,” BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad said.
The Commissioner also said that show cause notices will be issued to all Joint Commissioners at the Zonal Level asking them to reply to questions on discrepancies in paying the pourakarmikas.
“When the biometric system started in January, more people registered than necessary. When this happened, why did the Joint Commissioners allow this to happen? Why did they not correct this earlier despite having knowledge of what was going on? What were the AEEs (Assistant Executive Engineers) doing?” Mayor Sampath Raj questioned.
The Commissioner replied by saying that once the responses to the show-cause notices are issued, he will register FIRs on those who are responsible for the negligence.
The Mayor also said that the Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwara has asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau to investigate the BBMP and weed out the corrupt elements.