An unprecedented official letter written by D. Kempanna, president of the Karnataka State Contractors Association (KSCA) to the PMO (prime minister’s office), Delhi, complaining that civil engineering proprietaries and firms in Karnataka that execute civic projects for the state and municipal governments are being forced to pay bribes of 30-40 percent of their project fees, has exposed the extent to which corruption in this southern state, once renowned for clean and efficient administration, has become institutionalised.
This extraordinary KSCA complaint to the PMO exposes merely the tip of the below-the-waterline corruption iceberg that’s ballooning in Karnataka (pop.63 million). A series of raids conducted by the state’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in late November against 15 lower bureaucracy (class C and D) officials across the state uncovered assets grossly disproportionate — including 7 kg of gold, Rs.15 lakh in cash, luxury cars, and urban and rural immoveable property.
However, nothing much is expected to come of these raids. Under a curious law, government permission is required to file criminal cases against government employees. Moreover, ACB’s convictions record is a mere 6 percent.
An amoral rural gentry steeped in caste politics and routine corruption of rural India has swamped the state’s administration with kith and kin. Therefore, the below water-line corruption iceberg is continuously expanding.