In a rare show of resolve, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has debarred 11 errant contractors for submitting fake bills and trying to sabotage civic systems. Among them, six contractors have been blacklisted for six years for trying to sabotage the recently-introduced civil works contracts (CWC) system, while the other five have been banned for life.
HT has been consistently reporting on how contractors have been trying to sabotage the new system. The civic body's action on Tuesday is the first official admission of such sabotage.
Contractors have been trying various means to disrupt the new CWC system and ensure the civic body returns to the old way of handing out civil works.
After facing immense flak for corruption in these works, the BMC in October unveiled a new system, which aimed at introducing more transparency in allocation of these works.
However, contractors have refused to let this system prosper. After bagging works, these contractors were supposed to pay a bank guarantee to the BMC. However, while 52 firms paid up, six firms refused to pay this guarantee despite the deadline expiring. "Their intention was to keep delaying the work they had bid for and ensure that corporators and locals blame our new system for the delay. Hence, these contractors, despite our repeated reminders, refused to pay up," said a senior official, who has worked on implementing the new system.
HT had also reported on how just a handful of contractors have been bagging these CWC works, thus making it easier for them to manipulate the system. Only 62 contractors had bagged a whopping 1,755 contracts between them under the new system, giving rise to fears of cartels.
The BMC has also banned five other contractors for life for submitting fake bills to the sewerage department for work that was never done. Fake bills amounting to a whopping Rs 96 crore were submitted between 2206 and 2009. At least, 17 contractors have submitted such fake bills. Notices were sent to all of them, but these five did not reply.
This action comes a day after BMC chief Sitaram Kunte announced a series of reforms. Among these reforms, Kunte also referred to how contractors need to be given lessons in ethics.