Contractors are sabotaging the new system introduced to bring in transparency in the allotment of minor civil works contracts by refusing to carry out the work despite bagging contracts and fielding dummy firms, claim civic officials.
Under the new system, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) floats separate tenders for each work and the lowest bidder gets the contract. Any contractor cannot undertake work worth more than Rs. 20 lakh. Nearly 1,851 civil works have been assigned, since the introduction of the system on October 22, 2012. Of these, 1,414 works have been finalised.
“It is difficult to work at such low rates. So, most contractors are refusing the works and are willing to forfeit their deposits. The contractors feel that this will help them get rid of the system,” said a contractor, who has worked in the old system.
A ward officer from the eastern suburbs said, “While the new system has streamlined the way we allot the contracts, the contractors’ reaction to it remains a problem. On several occasions, the contractors bid so low that even we are suspicious of whether they will be able to complete the work.”
Samajwadi Party group leader Rais Shaikh said that only one work has begun in his constituency so far. “The contractors are refusing to start work to sabotage the new system.”
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta, who played a crucial role in bringing in the new system, said, “The system is working well. We had some complaints about the misconduct of some contractors, but the issue is being looked into.”
The BMC now plans to warn the contractors that if their non-cooperation persists, it will not issue contracts for any new work after February. “As the contractors are refusing to cooperate, we have decided to issue a diktat that no work orders will be issued after February. This way, both the contractors and the corporators will be forced to pull up their socks,” said a senior civic official.
Former mayor and Sena corporator Shubha Raul said, “Though the new system is transparent, there are many issues which need to be resolved. In my ward, though civil works worth Rs50 lakh have been approved, the work orders are yet to be issued. So, the work hasn't begun. Such hurdles need to be cleared.”