Even after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan pulled up the civic body over the inflated costs of projects, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) continues to table cost variation proposals before the standing committee.
During the assembly’s winter session at Nagpur, Chavan asked for a detailed report on the cost variations in work contracts at the BMC for the last three years. Cost variation means an increase or decrease in cost of projects after they have been sanctioned.
Despite this, the cost of the latest project of concretisation of roads to be tabled before the standing committee, originally estimated at Rs25.39 crore, has been hiked up to Rs97.98 crore. This is an increase by 300%.
The civic body has sought the standing committee’s sanction for the proposal of additional work and cost. “The contract was to concretise four roads at Kurla in 2007, which should have been completed in December 2008, but is still incomplete,” said a civic official.
There has been a hike in cost because along with the four roads at Kurla, the administration decided to concretise two other roads, MTNL Road and Lathiya Road. Two small bridges will also be concretised. The BMC has awarded the extended contract to the same contractor without issuing fresh tenders. Therefore the cost of the project has escalated by Rs72.59 crore.
Kumar, in his first budget speech earlier this month, said project costs should not escalate after they are awarded to a contractor. “There are different types of cost variations. One type of escalation occurs when the actual cost is higher than the projected cost and the second is when a delay in the project increases the cost. Both can be considered,” Kumar had said.
The Congress has opposed the BMC’s proposal. Amin Patel, Congress MLA, said, “First, the contractor should be blacklisted because he did not complete the original work within the stipulated period. Second, additional work should not be awarded to him. Instead, tenders should be invited.”