As of June 18, over 90 former corporators of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) are yet to return the iPads that were given to them during their tenure to aid the process of paperless council proceedings. The term of the previous BBMP council ended in September 2020, after which the members of various political parties were expected to return the gadget as per the directions of former BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad.
A BBMP official told TNM that the COVID-19 restrictions in Bengaluru have made the retrieval of these gadgets slower, even though the civic body had sent out a final notice over a month ago. â€śWe are looking to get back the maximum number of the gadgets. However, the next BBMP elections havenâ€™t been declared and considering the lockdown, we havenâ€™t pressured them,â€ť the official said.
Former corporator and Kolar MP S Muniswamy is among the list of corporators who are yet to return their iPad. However, Muniswamy said that he returned the iPad a few months ago and is not sure why the office still has it marked as not returned. â€śMy team had gone to the BBMP office to return the gadget and got the acknowledgement receipt too,â€ť he said. Muniswamy also claimed that he had not received the gadget in a working condition, due to which he never used it during his term. â€śIt wasnâ€™t switching on, so I couldnâ€™t use it at all during my tenure as corporator. I plan to go and personally clarify the matter with the Commissioner soon,â€ť he said.
Former corporator Ramesh N admitted that he is yet to return the high-end gadget. â€śA few months ago, while I was on my way to hand over the iPad, it happened to fall off the vehicle and I have not been able to find it yet. I am willing to pay for it. I sent a letter addressed to the BBMP office about five months ago but havenâ€™t received a response yet,â€ť he said.
Rajanna, another former corporator, said he lost the iPad when he was shifting houses. â€śThe Commissioner has informed us to bear the cost of the gadget and deposit the amount through cheque. Iâ€™ll reimburse the amount as per instructions now that the lockdown restrictions have been relaxed,â€ť he said.
However, a top BBMP official, on request of anonymity, denied the option of reimbursement. As yet, all former councillors are expected to return the iPad, not reimburse, he said. â€śIf the option of bearing the cost is given, everyone might choose to pay about Rs 20,000 considering the reduced value of a second-hand gadget,â€ť he added. â€śIf the person concerned is unable to return it, the IT Department will take a call and a decision will be made upon the Commissioner's approval,â€ť the official said.
The civic body had procured 198 iPads in February 2018 at a cost of Rs 45,000 per device. The gadgets are now being collected to be given to the elected representatives of the next council, to continue the process of paperless council proceedings.
â€śFormer corporators not returning iPads even after multiple reminders is ridiculous. The then Commissioner Manjunath Prasad had warned that they would be barred from future elections. This shows how these corporators respected the BBMP norms when they were in power,â€ť Mukund Gowda, State President, AAP Youth Wing, said. He added, â€śThe energy seen during passing resolution and receiving the gadgets is not seen in returning them. I hope the Special Commissioner at least collects the amount or notifies that they are permanently barred.â€ť