In a major move to curb corruption in road reconstruction work, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has tweaked the current norms.
According to the new norms, a road to be reconstructed can be dug up only up to 20cm — around one foot. Earlier, this was allowed till 87cm (about three feet). The change in norms means that recently highlighted malpractices in the excavation of debris and transportation will now be curbed to a great extent.
The BMC pays contractors a separate amount for excavation and transportation, which saw rampant malpractices as contractors inflated the quantity of debris and submitted bogus bills. This route had proved to be a goldmine for the contractor-official nexus in the civic body.
The matter of malpractices had come to light when mayor Snehal Ambekar wrote a confidential letter to civic chief Ajoy Mehta recently, alleging corruption in the excavation and transportation of road debris and demanded an inquiry. Following this, Mehta ordered an inquiry last month into all road improvement works undertaken in the past one year.
When a road is taken up for reconstruction, the first phase includes deep excavation and transportation of debris. Then the road is leveled with material called granular sub base (GSB) mix and wet mix (powder to keep surface intact). In the last phase, a new surface of asphalt or concrete is laid out.
A senior official from the road department said, “Currently, nearly all the city roads have a perfect and compact base. We are digging and creating unnecessary work by leveling the same.”
He said, “Also, there is problem of dumping places, so many times contractors get paid extra to dump the debris elsewhere.”
Samajwadi Party group leader Rais Shaikh welcomed the corporation’s move of tweaking the norms and said, “This will help the civic body save crores of public money as corruption is rampant in debris excavation and transportation. The BMC should incorporate this change in the proposed Rs-710 crore road improvement works in the eastern suburbs.”
He said, “Now the cost of reconstructing roads will automatically come down.”
Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta confirmed the development. “Now, we will propose all the road works with the new norms. This will lead to almost no debris during road improvement, which will bring down the repair cost.”