BBMP hoardings scam: Anti-corruption forum backs whistleblower commissioner

Published Sep 26, 2015, 8:02 am IST
Updated Mar 27, 2019, 5:07 pm IST

Bengaluru: Twenty-three postings, re-postings and transfers over a period of eight years of government service – that’s the reward for Mathai K., the assistant commissioner of BBMP’s Advertising Division. He was recently transferred for the 24th time after he submitted a report on the BBMP hoardings scam to the government.

An anti-corruption activist obtained a stay on his transfer order at a Lokayukta court and Mathai is continuing as the in-charge assistant commissioner. “This will set a Guinness World Record for the highest number of transfers and re-postings of an upright, honest and sincere officer who was up-in-arms against corruption at government offices,” said Guruprasad TN. The latter is a member of the Forum For Anti-Corruption that came out to support Mathai after studying his stints at the various government offices throughout Karnataka over a period of 8 years.

Born in Dharmastala, he studied in a Kannada medium school.  Mathai continued his education in Siddavana Gurukula. After completing MA in Public Administration, he went on to do his law and later engineering when he was selected for the Indian Air Force (IAF). He was judged ‘The Best All Round Airman’ in 1979 and was also a part of “Operation Blue Star” in 1984. He served with IAF in different capacities before he chose to take voluntary retirement in 1998, after which he continued practicing as a lawyer.

He was later selected for KAS and joined the state government service as a KAS officer. “Mathai began his KAS journey as Tahsildar and since then he has worked in Sringeri, Joida, Bhatkal, Hirekerur, Madikeri, Hassan, Mandya and Yadgir and Bengaluru over a period of 8 years, throughout which the bureaucrat was transferred 23 times”, said Mr. Guruprasad.

During his stint as Tahsildar of Hassan for two years, he took the rampant sand mafia head-on, resulting in threats to him and his family members. His residence in Hassan was even set on fire by miscreants who wanted to intimidate and drive him away from the district.

He was then posted as the commissioner for Mandya Urban Development Authority (MUDA). There too he sniffed out a scam worth Rs. 300 crores, where government officials and politicians misappropriated the state revenue and had sold sites of MUDA to people of their choice. The case is being investigated by the CBI.

The land mafia then got him transferred from Mandya to Hoovina Hadagali, and since then he has had seven transfers – Hooviana Hadagali to Bidar, Bidar to Hassan, then to Madikeri, from there to Mysore and then to Bengaluru as the joint commissioner of BBMP Advertisement Section.

When Mathai single-handedly took on the BBMP hoarding scam that ran into thousands of crores and submitted a report to the government, his transfer was initiated. “Fortunately, the transfer order was stayed by a Lokayukta court at the behest of an anti-corruption activist. We also came to know that the government is planning on having the court stay vacated and will expedite his transfer soon,” said Guruprasad. He  added that whistle blowers like him need to be encouraged and given protection.

Shockingly low revenue: report

Mathai, in his BBMP hoardings scam report, compares the advertising revenue of BBMP with the Kempegowda International Airport, spread over about 5 square kilometers, which is Rs. 100 crore per annum. By contrast, the BBMP with a whopping 850 square kilometers is showing only Rs. 25 crore as advertising revenue to the government.

He also compares BBMP with the Railways, that fetches an average of Rs 25 crore revenue per annum for just a few railway stations and surrounding areas. Mathai claims in his report that the BBMP should earn not less than Rs 2000 crores as their annual revenue for advertising, adding that one can easily track the number of hoardings in the corporation limits by using modern technology like e-auctioning to get the actual figures, but the government is not interested for reasons best known to them.

Location: Karnataka


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