The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has surprisingly ignored an important clause of agreement that the “contractors are binding to rebuild the sub-standard roads at their own expenditure”, making the civic body’s action against errant contractors and its own employees in the road repair scam a folly.
After conducting an inquiry into 34 roads, it has been established that the work was substandard. But the civic body has done nothing to restore them by compelling the contractors to redo them according to the contract.
According to the general contract conditions (GCC) of the BMC, if any work done by contractors is found unsatisfactory, it can direct them to redo the work and recover the payment from the contractors. GCC clauses 69 and 87 — a copy of which is available with the HT — give power to the BMC to get the work redone and recover excess payment to the contractors.
Now, since the contractors and the road department employees are facing police probe, redoing of the roads is unlikely. The BMC may end up spending more public money on those roads which could have been done free of cost. According to the road-inquiry report, the substandard road repair and reconstruction work by contractors have cost the civic body a loss of Rs14 crore.
A source said, “After malpractices surfaced, the first thing the civic body should have done was to direct contractors to redo the shoddy stretches according to the norms. If the contractors denied, the civic officials could have sent notices to recover the payment.”
A senior BMC official said, “Now, the BMC will spend more public money by appointing fresh contractors to repair the substandard 34 roads.”
Citizen groups are also urging the civic administration to get the work redone by the same contractors. “It was a basic thing which the civic body should have done. Especially, when there is clear provision in its contract clause of invoking an order to redo the work if it was unsatisfactory,” said Nikhil Desai, citizen activist of F-North Citizens’ Federation.
He added, “By ignoring such important clauses the civic body’s move would now cost the taxpayers, as the contractors responsible for the mess are facing arrests. They should have started the probe only after getting the work redone by the contractors.”
Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta refused to comment on the substandard road work saying the matter was under police investigation.
A senior civic official said, “Since the act of engineers and contractors was criminal we handed over the investigation to the police. Now, redoing of shoddy patches will be done after the investigation is over.”