Paying no heed to a series of serious allegations made by civic corporators against contractors bidding to resurface city bridges, the standing committee approved their contracts, raising questions about the quality of work that can be expected.
Among the allegations were attempts by a group of contractors to form a cartel and bid at very high rates.
The work comprises resurfacing 17 bridges on internal roads in the city. While the civic body had estimated this would cost Rs. 32 crore, the contractors quoted Rs42 crore. This also provoked the ire of committee members.
The most serious allegation, however, came from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena(MNS) corporator Sandeep Deshpande, who alleged that a group of contractors had formed a cartel to bag these contracts at a premium price.
"The way all these contractors have quoted their rates shows that they were working together. This is very serious and must be investigated," said Deshpande.
Deshpande also said a single contractor, RPS Infra Ltd, was the owner of several other firms that were bidding on the contracts. "RPS Infra owns shares in Priti Constructions as well as Shah & Parikh Ltd, both firms that participated, but deliberately got themselves disqualified by not submitting certain documents," he alleged.
Refuting the allegation, Nitin Shah from RPS Infra said, "All these companies have different partners and there is no common partner. We have not entered into any arrangement to rig the contracts."
Sheetal Mhatre, a Congress member who remained absent from the meeting, later protested against the approval granted, and questioned whether this was done to benefit the contractors.
The civic administration said it would look into the allegations. "We are taking these charges seriously," said additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta. Gupta. However he said that there was nothing the BMC could do to prevent cartels from being formed as it was difficult to detect.