Your municipal corporation forgives and forgets, and that too at the cost of your money. This is proved by the fact that a contractor, who was penalised by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for not doing the work during his contract period, has been awarded a similar contract for double the time period.
According to a Right To Information (RTI) application filed Citizens for Better Mumbai, a group of 35 residents of A ward (Cuffe Parade to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus), the BMC had awarded a contract of Rs 83.91 lakh to Asphalt Construction Private Ltd to paint zebra crossings on city roads between April 2007 and March 2008.
The reply says that during this period, the firm had painted pedestrian crossings only on 10 roads. Subsequently, the BMC's vigilance department had penalised the firm Rs 27,500.
“We were 35 of us who had sent the BMC's road department similar RTI queries. We were shocked to learn that the BMC has spent Rs 83.91 lakh to mark zebra crossings on just 10 roads. That means more than Rs 8 lakh was spent on painting just one road,” said Deepak Tralshawala, who had gone into appeal after the first reply from the BMC was not satisfactory.
If the thermoplastic paint, which is used to mark zebra crossing, wears off within two years the same contractor has to repaint it at their cost.
“On most of these 10 roads, which were painted in 2007, the zebra crossing looks washed out,” added Tralshawala.
Further, the road department, in its reply to the RTI query, said the same firm has been awarded a contract for two years from 2009-11 to mark zebra crossings on roads from zone 1 to zone 5, which includes almost the entire city.
But the BMC maintains that it has awarded the contract to Asphalt Constructions according to procedure.
“When the tenders were ordered, this contractor had the lowest bid so the contract was given to him,” said a senior civic official from the roads department, on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media.
In addition to Asphalt Constructions, the two-year contract has also been awarded to another agency at a cost of Rs 4.5 crore.
“It is shocking how the BMC is favoring contractors so blatantly and swindling public money like this,” alleged Tralshawala. The group has now decided to file another RTI application seeking details of the new two-year contract.
Kunti Oza, a member of the group, said it seems that it is the BMC’s policy to keep giving contracts to non-performers and “let them siphon of public money”.