The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wants to spend more on roads. And if experts and insiders are to be believed, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Despite repeated warnings, the civic body is all set to go ahead and allot contracts worth around Rs350 crore, which will be spent at ward-level.
These contracts will be for ‘construction’ of minor roads in the city. Officials at ward-level will execute these contracts, an exercise, which experts and insiders say, is fraught with neglect and corruption and results in shoddy work.
Earlier, when such ward-level contracts were handed over, collusion between corporators and contractors was rampant, leading to a deterioration of the quality of work, sources said.
Nandkumar Salvi, retired chief engineer (roads) and former member of the road monitoring committee, said, “Ward-level officials lack technical expertise and there is absolutely no inspection of the work that takes place. Hence, such works should be avoided.”
Agreeing with Salvi, standing technical advisory committee (STAC) chairman NV Merani said, “We have always been saying that such huge amounts shouldn’t be given at the ward-level. They lack the knowledge and even adequate staff to execute and supervise such projects.”
However, defending the action, a senior civic official, said, “We have made quite a few changes to our system. For instance, we have appointed consultants to design specifically which roads should be taken up and its estimates have been prepared. Earlier, all this was done by ward-level officials who appointed a consultant themselves and hence, increased the chances of malpractices.”
Standing committee chairman and Shiv Sena corporator Rahul Shewale said, “This time these projects won’t be executed by ward-level contractors. Since we are appointing consultants, who will appoint contractors, chances of any malpractice will be reduced.”
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta was not available for comment.