An estimated Rs200 crore of public money was about to be spent on repairing roads in the western suburbs that were in perfectly good condition — revealing once again the irregularities in the road department and putting the focus back on the alleged nexus between contractors, officials and corporators.
The issue came to light following a review ordered by civic chief Ajoy Mehta. It showed 113 road reconstruction contracts were about to be handed over to contractors, when these roads needed no repairs at all.
Mehta has now decided to reduce the number roads that will be repaired in the western suburbs. The BMC had planned to rebuild 330 roads between Bandra and Dahisar, at an estimated cost of Rs500 crore.
The manipulation in the number of roads that actually needed repairs has once again raised questions over the functioning of the civic road department.
Earlier, an inquiry had been ordered into the removal of debris from the reconstruction work of certain roads. “The road department has included even those roads that are in good condition. Some roads only needed minor repairs in patches or resurfacing. But the department had proposed to completely redo the road, this was surprising,” said senior official from the department. Now, the 113 roads will be categorised — those that need no repairs, ones on which minor repairs will be done, and those that only need resurfacing. This will not only save around Rs200 crore of public money, but also avoid traffic jams in areas where the road work is being done.
Mehta told HT, “The review has helped the civic body to save crores of public money.”
“When we started the review, it was shocking to see so many roads were in good condition. Some of them were included for repair because of the nexus between contractors, civic officials and corporators,” said another source from the civic body.
Mehta’s order asking officials to review proposed road work came after he found out about a good road in Worli being reconstructed. Mehta cancelled this tender. He found a similar case in the Andheri Sports Complex, where an asphalt road was being converted to a concrete one, even though the complex saw little traffic. Last week alone, the civic body cancelled 42 proposals in the island city and eastern suburbs. Of the proposed 228 roads in the island city, 25 were excluded; 17 of 282 in the eastern suburbs were removed from the list of proposed contracts. The biggest chunk, however, was found in the western suburbs.