Karnataka govt transfers Bengaluru civic body commissioner after comments on lockdown extension

South India

Anil Kumar said lockdown should be there for at least 15 days to break the cycle while state govt argued that lockdown will not contain the pandemic

The Karnataka government on Saturday ordered the transfer of BH Anil Kumar as commissioner of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), a day after he made a comment on extending the week-long lockdown in India's technology capital.

"In my personal opinion, the lockdown should be there for at least 15 days to break the cycle," Anil Kumar said on Friday.

His comments have put the BS Yediyurappa-led state government in a rather embarrassing position as it argued that the "lockdown is not the solution to contain COVID-19".

Despite the pressure, the state government said that it would not extend the lockdown which would further add to the economic distress and acute fund crunch in the state.

The transfer comes at a time when Bengaluru has seen a surge in coronavirus cases and is now one of the worst affected cities in the country with over 20,000 active cases. Over 500 people succumbed to the pandemic so far.

Kumar could not immediately be reached for comment. He was transferred to the department of public enterprise.

The statement gave an impression that the political class and their decisions did not have the backing of its officials which had contributed to the city's recent failings and downhill slide in managing the health crisis.

His transfer adds to the rapidly unravelling and mounting tales of mismanagement of the COVID- 19 crisis in Bengaluru which has seen a steady decline in its battle against the virus.

N Manjunath Prasad has been brought back as the BBMP commissioner, the government said in its order.

Kumar was also recently pulled up for his decision to rent out beds and other items like fans and buckets for a daily rental of Rs 800 for the COVID-19 care centre (CCC) at Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre (BIEC).

The decision handed the Opposition ample ammo to attack the government for allegedly trying to reap monetary gains from the health crisis. Under pressure and increasing criticism, the chief minister withdrew the previous order and decided to buy all items required for the CCC at a cost below Rs 5 crore as against the earlier plans of the BBMP to rent them at a cost of over Rs 24 crore per month.


Image credit: Deccan Herald

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