iconimg Friday, September 04, 2015

Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, September 24, 2013
Bowing to persistent demands by corporators who are eyeing the upcoming elections, the civic body has granted a whopping Rs. 642 crore to be used through the controversial civil works contracts (CWC) system. Adding to this drastic about-turn, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has also allowed these contractors to lay minor roads, something they had disallowed even before scrapping the CWC.

The system was scrapped following senior civic officials’ allegations of corruption and funds embezzlement.

In its place, the BMC decided to invite e-tenders and e-quotations for individual work, thereby reducing the chances of corporators and officials creating work where there was none, as alleged in an internal note written by the chief accountant (finance).

Hindustan Times had, on July 8, reported how the civic body was all set to re-introduce the contentious system. Confirming this, the BMC has now gone ahead and floated tenders to appoint 107 contractors, who will utilise at least Rs642 crore over the next 16 months.

Before scrapping the system last year, the BMC had first disallowed contractors from make new roads.

This was done as the BMC believed that contractors were cutting maximum corners while laying roads, leading to a pitiable state of roads.

Controversially, the BMC has now allowed them to construct minor roads that are less than 30 feet in width.

Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said that the roads department had specifically requested for minor roads to be allowed to be re-laid by CWC contractors.

The civic body, however, said that previous experiences were being considered while re-introducing the system.

“We have decided to have third-party auditors who will keep a close check on these works. Our experience has been that such auditors will ensure the quality of work improves over a period of time,” said Mhaiskar.

Incidentally, this move comes after various corporators made persistent demands to bring the system back.

Many, especially first-timer corporators, complained that the e-tendering system was not working efficiently.

“I would say that while the e-tendering system was fine, it did not allow corporators to carry out any emergency work that needed to be attended to immediately. This needed to be changed immediately, since the public was unhappy with the slow pace of work,” said Samajwadi Party group leader Rais Shaikh.