Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pushing for ‘Digital India’, the Shiv Sena-BJP ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to purchase 11 cars, at a cost of Rs 60 lakh, to distribute copies of agenda of the meetings to civic committee members at their home. This, despite the civic body’s decision in the recent past to send the agenda through emails led to purchase of laptops for elected representatives.
The transport wing of the solid waste management department has appointed an agency to purchase 11 Tata Sumo vehicles for the job. “The proposal to purchase 11 cars will be tabled in standing committee for approval. Once the committee gives it nod, we will start phasing out old cars,” said a senior civic official from the BMC.
For several years, the civic administration has been sending copies of the agenda of the civic committee meetings through vehicles and staff maintained for the purpose. To make corporators more tech-savvy and give electronic access to various proposals coming up for discussion in the civic committees or the general body meeting, the civic body purchased laptops at a cost of Rs 7.67 crore. These laptops were to be used by corporators for their correspondence with the civic administration, receiving agenda of various meetings and redressing complaints of citizens. However, most of the corporators have not used their laptops even once.
There are more than five committees such as the standing committee, improvement, education, health, corporation, among others. Along with the car, each committee gets a driver and peon to deliver the agenda a day or two before the meeting. This exercise is done thrice a week.
Activists and experts have termed the purchase of vehicles a waste of public money. “The BMC carries out e-tendering, under which contractors get a login ID to access tender documents. Why can’t they make such an arrangement for corporators? Apart from the vehicle cost, there are other unnecessary expenses such as drivers’ salaries and fuel charges. Corporators can easily access the agenda on their laptops,” said activist Jitendra Gupta.
Siraj Ansari, chief engineer, SWM department, said, “The cars are purchased according to the request given by the municipal secretary department. They are used according to their requirement. We are only concerned with the purchase.”