While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) may say that it has a fair and open bidding process, there have been plenty of occasions where that claim has been suspect.
Right from changing pre-qualification criteria without explanation to closing sale of tenders to even changing the cost, the civic body's tendering system has many flaws.
The BMC sets certain pre-qualification criteria and the contractors who fulfil these are then shortlisted and judged only on the basis of their rates.
However, insiders said that these conditions are normally twisted and moulded to favour a few contractors.
In 2011, after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan asked the civic body to ensure that bigger contractors constructed city roads, the BMC tightened its prequalification criteria for a Rs550-crore contract for major roads.
Once the controversy died down, the BMC brought out another Rs350 crore contract for minor roads and tweaked rules to favour smaller contractors.
From having bigger packets worth Rs70-80 crore, the BMC brought down the packet size to Rs15-20 crore for each contract.
For the earlier project, the BMC had said the annual turnover of the bidder needed to be 90% of the total cost of the contract.
But for the minor roads, it scaled down the amount to 75% of the cost. It wasn’t surprising that smaller contractors then submitted bids 12% to 30% below the civic estimate.
This isn't an isolated incident. The BMC changed tender conditions (see box) to favour a few, and then shut the sale of tenders so that others couldn't participate.
Congress corporator Asif Zakaria said the tendering process provided infinite possibilities of manipulations.
“Civic officials change the criteria conveniently to ensure that the contract is manipulated and it is done in a way that an unsuspecting ordinary citizen will not even realise,” he said.