In a complete turnaround and an indication that a long legal dispute may lie ahead, the contractor handling the Deonar project has asked for Rs36.19 crore from the BMC, to return the site and the project operations to the civic body.
In a letter addressed to the deputy municipal commissioner (DMC) of the solid waste management (SWM) department, the contractor Tatva Global Environment Limited said they will return the “possession” to the BMC 45 days after the receipt of the payment.
This also means the process of closing down operations will get delayed until this squabble between the contractor and the civic body is resolved.
The payment quoted by the contractor includes the amount allegedly withheld by the BMC, between 2012 and 2015 to the company, the penalty levied to the company and various other bills.
The issue was raised by Congress corporator Sheetal Mhatre in the BMC’s standing committee meeting on Wednesday.
According to the letter dated January 28 (a copy of which is with HT), the company blamed the administration for the state of the Deonar ground. According to the letter, the company has alleged the corporation failed to limit the amount of waste, initiate a lease agreement or make timely payments to the company.
Without the lease, the company was unable to set-up a processing plant to treat waste at the site, the letter adds.
It further states, “…we are mandated to hand over possession [of the project] only after receiving all payments due from you (BMC), under the Agreement.” The letter also threatens the corporation “of appropriate legal remedies” for “wrongful termination of agreement.”
The company, in a statement released to HT over email, said, “These are retention amounts accumulated for the works carried out since start and the unpaid running account bills duly certified and due for payments. According to the contract, MCGM is supposed to clear all these dues at the time of taking over. “
Earlier in January, the BMC had issued a termination notice to the company for breach of agreement. The company, in 2009, was given a contract to carry out partial closure of the Deonar dumping ground and simultaneously put up two compost plants to process municipal waste with a capacity of 1,000 metric tonnes each. Civic officials stated that despite continuous follow-ups, the contractor failed to do his job.
Last week, when a major fire broke out in Deonar, civic officials openly alleged of sabotage by the contractor, who was asked to handover the plot to the BMC by January 30, 2016.
Though the BMC wanted to lease the plot at a concessional rate, the state government had shot down the request, following the state-appointed SK Goel committee’s inquiry report, which cited “anomalies” in the process of appointing landfill contractors by the BMC for its dumping grounds.
In an SMS reply to HT, Pallavi Darade, additional municipal commissioner, in-charge of the SWM department said, “Over a period of 6-7 years, we have imposed various penalties on lapses noticed during the contract period. Their claim will be examined and what is legally due will be paid.”
While the corporator questioned the company’s intentions, they also pointed to civic officials having favoured the company for long. Rais Shaikh, a Samajwadi corporator from M/East (which includes Deonar) said that the BMC has failed to take any action against the contractor till date.
“Despite the commissioner’s orders to file a case of negligence against the contractor for the incident, nothing has been done till date. The BMC must, in fact, register a criminal case against them,” Shaikh said.