Constructing a building allegedly comes at an extra cost in several pockets of Bengaluru, even if the property owner has obtained all clearances.
Cartels involving elected representatives, their henchmen and field-level officials are allegedly going around demanding Rs 2 lakh per floor for buildings following norms and Rs 4 lakh per floor in case of illegal structures, several property owners said.
One such cartel was busted on Tuesday. A corporator’s aide masquerading as a BBMP junior engineer and a waterman and their associates were arrested by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officials while accepting cash worth Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh cheque from the owner of a building under construction in Singasandra, southeast Bengaluru.
Property owner AP Govindappa alleged the trio had demanded Rs 3 lakh for the four-storey building he was constructing.
According to the complainant, Lokesh, who claimed to be junior engineer in BBMP’s Singsandra ward corporator’s office, waterman Govindraju and their associate Krishna Kumar told him they would get his building demolished if he didn’t pay the bribe.
Sources said Lokesh worked as personal assistant to Singasandra corporator Shanta Babu and was deputed in her office. Shanta said: “Work timings at my office are till 5 pm and I don’t know what people do after I leave. Even police have begun questioning me about their activities.”
According to ACB sleuths, Govindappa had undertaken construction of the four-floor building without any plan approval from the civic agency.
Police said Lokesh had demanded Rs 3 lakh and Govindaraju was negotiating on his behalf. Finally, the trio agreed to settle for Rs 1.5 lakh. On Tuesday evening, Lokesh and Krishna Kumar were arrested while accepting the bribe. Govindaraju was nabbed later.
“Prima facie, it has come to our notice that Lokesh was collecting bribe from property owners after threatening them that he’s a government officer. This is a serious offence and we are probing others’ roles as well,” said an officer part of the investigation.
Meanwhile, one property owner told, how money was extorted from him when he undertook construction of a building. “It is very difficult to take up construction in Bengaluru. You need to have political connections or be highly influential to avoid paying bribes to complete the project peacefully,” he said.
Source- et realty