Swachh Bharat and Smart Cities Corruption
Though the story below is of a municipal councilor from Hyderabad admitting on camera how the cut system works, the story is same in many parts of India. This is what happens when you launch missions without ground work, checks and balances and not engaging citizens properly.
Municipal Councillor Corruption in Telangana
When he took over as chief minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao had promised that he will convert the state into "Bangaru Telangana" (golden Telangana). In the last four years, quite a few elected representatives seem to have hit upon the pot of gold, if the confession made by the municipal chairperson of Sircilla town, Samala Pavani, is anything to go by.
In a brazen show of dishonesty, Pavani spoke on camera during a press conference about elected representatives collecting up to 3 per cent commission on every public work undertaken.
Samala Pavani spoke on camera about elected representatives collecting up to 3 per cent commission on every public work undertaken.
But she was not gloating over it. Her grouse, in fact, was that the contractors delay passing on the cut to the municipal councillors.
"We are also doing a lot of work so why shouldn't there be something in it for us. Politicians are always willing to inaugurate a project by breaking a coconut," she says. Clearly ethics and a sense of shame are not part of her political culture.
But then why wouldn't Pavani justify taking a bribe? She claims it is "our minister" who asked members of the Sircilla municipal council to demand commissions. She added that it wasn't just Sircilla where bribe taking was an established practice but it was prevalent across all municipalities in Telangana. Pavani does not name the minister but many wonder if the reference was to KT Rama Rao, the son of Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. KTR is both the municipal administration minister and the MLA from Sircilla.
Action was swift possibly because the stink had spread all the way to Hyderabad. Pavani resigned citing personal reasons, within hours of wearing the hat of commission agent as a badge of honour.
For politicians, bureaucrats or journalists reporting on politics and administration in Telangana or any part of the country, this would not come as a surprise. Contractors indeed are the lifeline of the political class, inflating project costs in order to create the necessary cushion to bribe those in power to get the contracts. "Na khaaunga, na khaane dunga'' or the boast of a corruption-free regime in Telangana are empty claims. On the ground, cash is the universal language.
The thumb rule calculation for a road project is that in order to win the tender, everyone from the MP to the MLA to the corporator in cities or the zilla parishad member or sarpanch in non-urban areas to the district officials have to be kept happy. The MP reportedly gets 7 per cent, MLA 8 per cent and the remaining 5 to 10 per cent is divided between the others. more