A possible nexus between civic officials and road contractors, which could cost the city dearly, was revealed when the BMC made sudden changes in clauses for contracts to resurface 17 city bridges and almost immediately closed sale tenders. Opposition members said that this was done to ensure only a few favoured contractors bagged the deal, which would escalate costs and affect quality of work.
Last week, the civic standing committee awarded the project to three contractors at Rs. 42 crore despite objections. HT found details of the project and its questionable tendering.
The BMC first floated tenders on March 2, 2012, at an estimated cost of Rs. 32 crore. On March 15, the last date to buy tenders, the BMC issued a clarification that contractors could bid in joint ventures and set March 17 as the deadline.
On March 17, the BMC again changed a condition allowing even those contractors who had the experience of manually laying mastic asphalt to participate in the bid. This opened up the bid to a lot more firms but the deadline was revised to March 19 — only by two days later, of which one was a Sunday.
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said, “We have received serious complaints about this issue and are concerned about the tender’s sanctity. We are investigating the matter and will take action accordingly.”
Interestingly, only six contractors bid for these three contracts despite the lenient norms. Three of the six firms are owned by the same family.
Congress corporator Sheetal Mhatre, who has sent a legal notice to BMC chief Sitaram Kunte, said, “If the BMC had to change such critical conditions after issuing tenders, why did it give only a two-day extension?” said Mhatre.