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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

BMC clears tainted firm, project

Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, February 08, 2013
First Published: 02:03 IST(8/2/2013) | Last Updated: 02:05 IST(8/2/2013)

Just a day after it banned 11 contractors on charges of corruption, the civic body on undid its good work by clearing a controversial tender to resurface 17 bridges, despite allegations of malpractices.

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The same day, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) also gave a clean chit to tainted contractor RPS Infra Projects Ltd, which was being probed for allegations of irregularities in several projects.

HT has published a series of reports on the controversial  bridge resurfacing tender, worth Rs34 crore and suspicions of tender conditions being changed to favour certain players.

There were also allegations that the three contractors who bagged the work – one of which is RPS Infra – had formed a cartel. The civic body on Wednesday awarded the contract to the very same firms.

Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta defended the decision, taken by senior officials including civic chief Sitaram Kunte.

“There were allegations of some malpractices, but there was no proof and hence, we couldn’t cancel the tender.”

RPS Infra, on the other hand, has been at the centre of controversy, after it was demoted for doing shoddy work in a contract to build a BMC school.

However, the firm continued to use its former high rating, exploiting loopholes in civic rules, and continued to bid for major projects. The clean chit cleares the way for the firm to take on future  projects.

This is even more contentious because the RPS Infra case had invited the ire of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who had asked the BMC to change the rules so that firms would not be able to take advantage of the loopholes.

Explaining the decision, an official said: “Though we had initially demoted the firm in all categories, we reinstated its original gradings in June 2011 for all department other than building construction. However, this was not implemented for more than a year. We did not want to hold the company at fault for the civic officials’ negligence.”

Nitin Shah of RPS Infra said: “We had been insisting that we are in the right. The BMC’s decision vindicates us.”

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