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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Rs 529-cr boost for SoBo's roads

Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, November 28, 2012
First Published: 02:25 IST(28/11/2012) | Last Updated: 02:29 IST(28/11/2012)

The civic body plans to carry out roadwork worth a whopping Rs. 529 crore in south Mumbai - more than half the amount the civic body spent on relaying roads across the entire city last year.

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This may well be the largest set of road contracts the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has awarded to a single region. Earlier this year, the BMC had handed out road contracts worth Rs. 365 crore for roads in the western suburbs.

"We have doubled the roads department budget from last year's. Hence, it was imperative that we spent more money on improving roads," said an official from the roads department, requesting anonymity. "Also, last year's expenditure was focused more on the suburbs and less on the island city, hence the hike in expenditure on south Mumbai this year."

The BMC is planning to relay 129 roads in south Mumbai. Of this, it plans to relay a majority - 102 roads - with asphalt and the remaining 27 with cement-concrete.

While it failed to draw in big firms to bid on road tenders for the western suburbs earlier this year, the civic body has not lost hope just yet. This time around, the four tender packets are worth as much as Rs. 117 crore, Rs. 137 crore, Rs148 crore and Rs. 127 crore. And to make the contracts even more attractive to major players, the BMC has relaxed some qualification rules as well.

The old rules stipulated that a firm could only bag a single contract at a time, but the changed rules allow firms to pick up more than one out of the four on offer. 

However, not everyone believes the BMC's plan will finally lure the big firms. Instead it could end up benefitting the usual lot of contractors. "It is well known that bigger firms will not be able to handle the logistics of working in Mumbai on piece-meal contracts. So, by making the contracts bigger, the BMC is covertly ensuring that small-time contractors are wiped out and all the projects get concentrated in the hands of few big road contractors," said a small-time civic contractor, who did not wish to be named.

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