In another attempt to break the nexus between corporators and firms who take up civil works contracts (CWC), the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to reduce the number of CWC contractors to half. This would mean that from the present one contractor for every two corporators, one contractor will be appointed for each administrative ward. Some large wards will have two contractors.
Civic officials say that this move will help loosen the grip that corporators currently have over the contractors.
Hindustan Times had, in a series of articles last month, thrown light on the various irregularities involving these local-level works, after which the civic body revised the system. It reduced the scope of civil works that the contractors could handle, and sought to reduce the total number of contractors from 110 to 67. In the latest revision, the civic body has decided to further reduce the number of contractors, to 30.
Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner, said, “This is an administrative exercise, which is aimed at more transparency and efficiency. Since our budgets are anyway planned ward-wise, appointing a contractor for each will make the implementation of these contracts a smoother exercise.”
However, sources said that the real aim was to ensure that contractors don’t have to rely on only two corporators, as was the case earlier, and thus will help break the nexus.
In addition, civic officials have also decided to reduce the security deposit that short-listed contractors have to pay to the civic body. Currently, the contractors have to pay 3% of the total contract cost to the civic body as the additional security deposit (ASD), which has now been reduced to 1%.
An official from the planning and design department said, “Such a move can also backfire. Such relaxation of ASD can also mean that small-time contractors, who have little to lose by doing shoddy work, will also be encouraged to bid for these contracts.”
Corporators aren’t very happy with these changes. MNS group leader Dilip Lande said, “How can a single contractor handle all the work of an entire ward? People will be deprived of basic infrastructural facilities because of the delay. This is a very impractical move.”