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Containment zone infra: BBMP halts payment to contractors | Bengaluru News

BENGALURU: The BBMP’s rank and file seem to have smelt an opportunity even in a public health emergency like Covid-19. Huge bills are being raised over erecting containment zone infrastructure, data accessed by TOI revealed.
In Bharatinagar ward for instance, a contractor has raised a bill of Rs 69,100 as daily rent towards tin sheets and bamboo poles used to seal off a 100-metre-long containment zone with a Covid-19 patient. Incidentally, the bill for 14 days that runs up to Rs 9.7 lakh has been cleared in the lower echelons of the civic body.
“The amount is very high. We have been questioning our officials regarding this, but they have failed to give us answers. A bill for Rs 9.7 lakh has been raised by the contractor for lending barricades, wooden sticks and tin sheets,” a senior official in charge of containment zones confirmed.
BBMP commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad has ordered the engineering department to stop all payment to contractors towards containment infrastructure. “Containment zones have turned into a mafia of sorts and we are all aware of it. Poor management of containment zone security system has affected our funds,” said Prasad.
The cost will be discussed at a meeting likely to be held on Monday. “I will look into the rates and discuss with my engineers and fix a cap on the charges,” said Prasad.
While there are 14,518 containment zones in the city now, there was a time when this number had crossed 30,000, raising suspicion that misappropriation of funds could be in the range of crores of rupees.
The concept of containment zone was introduced in Bengaluru in the wake of cluster cases in Padarayanapura and the ward was sealed for 28 days. But the strategy failed to yield desired results, said the Palike chief.
“They should have checked the cost of renting the material vis-a-vis purchasing them. They kept sealing off areas and streets without using their brains,” he said.
Prasad wants the strategy of managing Covid-19 by marking off containment zones scrapped. He instead advocates sealing of affected houses and monitoring the inmates closely. In a letter to the chief secretary on August 12, Prasad suggested mapping of cases in terms of time and geography and tracking transmission chains properly.
“Sealing down streets is a nuisance. Instead, the house should be sealed, but neighbours should be informed and posters put up. Barricading and using other material to seal houses is inhuman,” he added.

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