Swachh Bharat and Smart Cities Corruption

A good bit of our tax payer money is going into pockets of municipal staff across India via Smart Cities and Swachh Bharat programs. Neither the Central Govt ministries of Urbaan development nor the state leaders are concerned. Commissions and cuts are being taken by many from the funding allocation by center to states and ULBs (our tax payer and cess monies)

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  

View all 40 comments Below 40 comments
One of the major way to tackle corruption in such matters is to make the data available on each Organisation, be it Municipal Corporation or any Government Body, on official website with all the details like nature of work (with detailed specifications of area), parties allotted the work, cost of the work, details on Affidavit like the contractor or any of his friends, relatives, associates are not related to him. This will nullify the requirement of someone making an application under RTI and threat of life to such Activists. Also by making this information available in public domain, pressure will be on the Representatives. more  
Must be addressed by none other than PMO. Please escalate this. more  
PM can do nothing as its state matter & Govt. belongs to another party. more  
So True. True also is you & I know but the powers of center, state dont know. Dichotomy remains whether MMS or NDM more  
It's a fallacy that the powers in the state and Venter don't know. They bloody well know every thing but prefer to keep their eyes and mouths shut as their cuts will be effected. more  
The commission culture had been set by previous Govt. This is very difficult to eliminate at this stage . any party govt takes vows to eliminate such deep rooted corruption cannot do any thing over night.A sustained effort is needed. If our elected members has to get ride of such practice. This culture has percolated down the lower levels and even class third employ expects Suvidha sulk. Basically we need to build national character. Very sad . more  
Nowhere in the world can anyone increase his or her own salary (I am talking about pure govt and govt organisations). The only exception is the case of politicians in India. They fight tooth and nail on petty issues only to retain/snatch power, waste tax-payers money in multiple ways but when it comes to increasing their own salary or perks they all unite and pass legislation without discussion. Do we need politicians like this? * The "No Work No Pay" rule should apply to all lawmakers, in the States as well as in the Centre. * The MPLAD scheme is only a scheme to fill the pockets of the MPs so that they can contribute to the party fund and reimburse themselves for the expenditure incurred in the last elections and make provisions for the next. THIS MUST BE SCRAPPED. * Wasting poor tax-payers money in giving grants to "local clubs" must stop. These clubs are used only to build up muscle power for the party in power. * Encroachment of public land by these local clubs must stop. All clubs built on public land must be demolished instead of giving them grants for dubious purposes. more  
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