Contractor has to disclose stake in family-run firms | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Contractor has to disclose stake in family-run firms

mumbai Updated: Jan 07, 2013 01:12 IST
Kunal Purohit

Taking cognisance of serious accusations against contractor RPS Infra, which bid for bridge resurfacing tenders allegedly alongside other family-run companies, the civic body has now served it a notice to submit details of the shares its owners hold in the other firms.

Hindustan Times has been carrying reports on how the contractor and three other firms run by the same contractor had bid for the same set of tenders, raising questions about the legality of such a bid.

The notice was served to the firm on Friday, and gives them three days to respond.

Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta confirmed the notice and said, “Serious allegations have emerged and we are now investigating if these firms were owned by the same persons.

If we find anything that violates our tender conditions, we will take harsh action against the firm.”

The Brihanmumbai Muncipal Corporation had invited tenders to resurface 17 bridges across the city at a cost of Rs. 34 crore. A total of six contractor firms had submitted bids for three contracts. Of these, three companies — RPS Infra, Speco Infra projects and Priti constructions — are owned by different members of the same family. RPS Infra bagged the contract while the other two didn’t qualify.

A Maharashtra Navnirman Sena corporator, Sandeep Deshpande, alleged that the other two firms willfully withdrew from the race as an “understanding” had been reached between them.

As HT had reported earlier, the civic body suspiciously changed vital tender conditions on the request of a few contractors and then shut the sale of tenders almost immediately. As a result, only a select few contractors could bid for the tenders, thus inviting allegations that a cartel of contractors had reached an understanding and formed a ‘ring’ to bag these contracts.

Nitin Shah, from RPS Infra, did not deny that the firms were owned by members of his family. “However, there are no common partners in these companies. All of them are controlled by different members of my family. Also, since there were three different tenders, each company bid for different tenders.”

Congress corporator Sheetal Mhatre, who sent a legal notice to the BMC chief on the issue, said the tender ought to be scrapped. “There are too many skeletons tumbling out of this closet. Such a controversial tender needs to be scrapped.”