The civic body’s decision to withhold payment to 16 road contractors because of their shoddy work may disrupt your daily commute even further.
The same contractors have undertaken several ongoing road repair projects and are threatening to stop work because of the BMC’s decision to not pay them.
The BMC has decided to withhold Rs959 crore, a figure that was arrived at after civic officials conducted a six-month probe and estimated that half the work carried out was shoddy. The officials probing 234 repaired and reconstructed roads found they were not built according to the design in the tender conditions. However, the BMC said strict action will be taken against contractors not willing to undertake their duty.
A senior civic official said, “This is just a gimmick that these contractors are trying on us. We have taken all these threats into consideration and we are ready with our plan of action. If they don’t work as per the contracts, strict action will be taken against these 16 contractors.”
More than 300 roads have been taken up for repairs in the city and majority of these were tendered to the 16 contractors named in the second road report. Corporators and civic sources claimed it will lead to major traffic snarls in the city. Pravin Chheda, Opposition leader and Congress corporator, said, “The contractors are threatening to stop work, we will have to answer the citizens. There is a fraud and they should be punished, but the civic body should also consider the problems city would face.”
However, contractors said that work on roads cannot continue unless payments are released. A contractor, who did not wish to be named, said, “The quantum of amount that is withheld is inflated unnecessarily. It is only a political decision where we are being made scapegoats. If we do not get our payment, how will we bring the material and start the work.”
In the first phase of the road probe where 34 roads were inspected, six contractors were found guilty and a First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against them along with a blacklisting order initiated in their names that bars them from bidding in any future civic contracts. However, the six contractors are yet to be blacklisted as the process of giving them a hearing is going on. The civic body is yet to finalise action in the second phase of the roads probe where 200 roads were inspected. The probe revealed that 16 contractors (including the six of the first phase) had defrauded the civic body.
Another civic officer said, “The civic body is yet to finalise the quantum of criminal and civil action before concluding the second phase of the road report and officially submitting it to the civic chief.”