The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India’s critical observations regarding the BMC has has once again drawn attention to the civic body’s unchecked spending. The bad news is, while the CAG report deals with bad financial decisions made between December 2009 to October 2011, things haven’t gotten much better thereafter.
Several decisions made by the Sena-BJP-ruled BMC have only eaten away at its coffers. Allowing a cost escalation of more than Rs.200 crore in the Mithi river project, spending Rs 550 crore on making new roads and immediately allowing various departments and utilities to dig those roads up are just some instances of this mismanagement, which results in wastage of taxpayers’ money, insist activists and experts.
“The system is circumvented routinely, in every aspect - right from making tenders to suit contractors, to ensuring the same cartel of contractors bag contractors at absurdly low rates and perform shoddy jobs. This needs to change if such CAG reports aren’t to be heard routinely,” said Juhu-based activist Utsal Karani, a part of Janhit Manch, a citizens’ initiative.
Not just Karani, even the Standing Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), appointed by the Bombay HC & the state government to monitor technicalities of the city’s road construction, feels the BMC routinely snubs its recommendations.
Incidentally, even the CAG report made references to how STAC guidelines were being regularly flouted. STAC chairman NV Merani said the civic body had ignored a host of recommendations made by the committee for improving the city’s roads.
Among them, a primary demand was to establish a central planning unit for the city’s roads and including independent experts while preparing tenders and making estimates.
“The BMC only paid lip-service to these, but did not follow any of the rules. Whatever the CAG has pointed out are observations that the STAC has repeatedly made and they have been recorded in our minutes of the meetings as well,” said Merani.