Nearly six years after awarding the contract, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is all set to slam the door on its biggest project — the Rs4,500 crore Deonar dumping ground scientific closure and waste treatment project.
Senior civic officials told the Hindustan Times the civic body has now made up its mind to scrap the contract with Tatva Global Environment, led by United Phosphorus Ltd (UPL). Though approved in principle by former civic chief Sitaram Kunte, the final decision on the issue will now be taken by newly appointed civic chief Ajoy Mehta.
The project has been mired in controversy ever since it was approved. From a flawed bidding process to inconsistent advice by a private consultant to cost escalations and finally, the non-performance by the company, the list of gaffes in the project is long.
HT had reported how the BMC had agreed to pay the company nearly 1,400 times more money than what its own consultant had initially proposed. From Rs40 per tonne as a tipping fee for processing the waste dumped at the 134-hectare ground to finally agreeing to pay Rs550 per tonne, the civic body ended up paying 1,375 times more for the same work, the total cost coming up to Rs4,408 crore. Despite the escalations, the company has not begun processing waste at the ground.
The company has, on the other hand, has been blaming the BMC for the mess saying the latter failed to hand over the land to it on a leasehold basis, as promised in the contract.
Two separate inquiries set up by the state government confirmed the flaws. Last month, even chief minister Devendra Fadnavis admitted to irregularities in the project during a discussion on the issue in the legislative council.
HT tried to reach the spokespersons for the company, but they did not want to comment on the issue.
Talking to HT, a senior civic official connected with the development confirmed the project is going to be scrapped. “We studied all the possible options before us and found there was no other option, but to scrap the contract and float fresh tenders. It is our largest dumping ground and these problems are severely crippling our waste management system,” the official said.
Once this proposal is approved, the civic body is most likely to go into arbitration so as to resolve the dispute between the consortium and the civic body. “We are sure the company will not take to the move very kindly. Hence, we are gearing up for a legal exercise to resolve the disputes so that we can start processing waste on the dumping ground soon.”