The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken a U-turn on the road repair scam. On one hand the civic body claimed it is going to file a civil suit to recover Rs352 crore from road contractors for doing a shoddy job, and on the other, the BMC has decided to release the payments of the same tainted contractors. The civic body moved a proposal to pay all but Rs28 crore of the total contract cost of Rs352 crore to the contractors, citing technical grounds.
The road department has cleared the way for the payment and a proposal has been sent to the municipal commissioner for a final approval. After an uproar over two different figures of losses from the road scam, the civic body had announced that it would file a civil suit against six contractors to recover the total value of the contracts.
HT had reported about the civic body’s inquiry report that had claimed a loss of Rs14 crore because of poor repair work. However, in its complaint to the police, the BMC claimed a loss of Rs11 crore only. Recently, the police had formed an SIT (Special Investigation Team) to probe the matter.
According to sources, contractors are putting pressure on civic officers to release the payment since the police are investigating the case and there is no concrete evidence to show their repairs were faulty.
Also, some contractors are threatening to delay the road repairs if payments are not cleared.
A senior civic official from the road department said, “We have decided to keep only Rs 28 crore of the total contract cost and the rest payment will be released. Since our inquiry report has stated a loss of Rs 14 crore after a series of discussions with department officials and the legal team, we have decided to hold back double the amount of loss and release the rest.”
On why such a decision was taken at a time when the police investigation is on, there was no proper explanation from any of the civic officials. The chief engineer, road department, Sanjay Darade, was unavailable for comments.