As though explaining why the city suffers from shoddy infrastructure, the civic body’s ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance, on Tuesday, cleared 34 proposals worth more than Rs 100 crore in just five minutes at the civic standing committee meeting — without discussing any of them.
Desperate to allot contracts worth more than Rs 6,500 crore before the election code of conduct is enforced, the parties cleared the projects by beginning the meeting at 2pm instead of the scheduled 3pm.
Opposition members alleged that they had not been informed about the change in timing and that when they arrived for the meeting, most proposals had already been cleared.
“Water problems in various wards were discussed in the informal meeting, which began at 2pm. The official meeting, called to clear the 34 proposals, began around 2.55pm,” said a corporator from the ruling alliance.
Denying that there was any vested interested in clearing the proposals hastily, standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale (from the Shiv Sena) said, “All members had read the agenda in advance so all proposals were familiar to them. We, therefore, concluded the meeting earlier.”
He said the meeting was rescheduled to an earlier time as standing committee members had to attend a bhoomipujan programme for the civic body’s pumping stations, which was was postponed to 4pm from 11am as planned earlier.
The Opposition party, Congress, was hardly convinced. Senior corporator Sameer Desai said that if meetings are to be rescheduled, the municipal secretary department must inform all the members about it. “When we entered the committee room at 3pm, the last proposal was being read out. It is our right to be informed about the changes in the timings,” said Desai.
Among the 34 proposals, 14 were related to repairing and rebuilding civic schools, which involves an expenditure of Rs60 crore. Six of the short-listed contractors chosen to work on the civic schools are those who had been indicted for defective work in 2008-09.
The remaining 20 proposals are related to works such as the laying of new storm water drain lines under the Rs42 crore Brihanmumbai Municipal Storm Water Drain (Brimstowad) project and appointing manning and mopping agencies in different wards.
Citizen activists have criticised the haste with which the proposals were cleared. “The ruling combine is wasting public money by clearing contracts blindly. It is highly irresponsible of elected representatives to please their political bosses in this manner. They can not play with public money,” said GR Vora, member of the F-North ward citizens’ association.