At least 32 contractors hired by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to clean sewerage drains in the city could be in trouble. The civic body found these contractors did not have the necessary cleaning trucks, and had instead provided the registration numbers of autorickshaws, two wheelers and other vehicles to get the contracts.
The scam was unearthed when the BMC, because of monsoon flooding in the city, asked for the registration numbers of the vehicles used by the contractors from the Regional Transport Office, and ordered an inquiry. Deputy chief auditor of BMC Madhav Ketkar, in his complaint to the Azad Maidan police station, said the municipal corporation found nine of the 32 contractors had given fraudulent details to secure contracts.
Ketkar’s complaint prompted the Azad Maidan police station to register an FIR against the contractors and the BMC asked police officers to verify the role of all the 32 contractors in the scam.
Not only did the contractors give the registration numbers of their autorickshaws, two-wheelers and cars to get the contracts, they also gave the wrong description of the trucks. Some contractors stated their trucks could carry a load of 23 tonnes, while the actual capacity was only 10 tonnes. The contractors also fraudulently increased the number of trips their trucks would make, said police officers.
“Nine of the contractors have been identified and an investigation is being conducted by the Azad Maidan police. The random vehicles that were named in the documents are being traced. A case of cheating and criminal conspiracy has been registered,” said Dhananjay Kulkarni, deputy commissioner and Mumbai police spokesperson.
BMC sources said they are still verifying the remaining contractors, adding civic officials want to pursue the police’s criminal investigation case more than blacklisting the contractors since that has never proved to be effective. Officials said the verification of nine contractors took at least two-and-a-half months.
According to the officials, most of the contractors had not been paid — payments of Rs16 crore were made from a total bill of Rs216 crore.
“The roles of other contractors are being verified and action will be taken against those found guilty. We are gathering all the documents pertaining to them and have sought time from the police,” said Sanjay Deshmukh, assistant municipal commissioner, BMC.