The demotion and the subsequent upgradation of a contractor days before the tender was floated has once again brought into focus the nexus that exists between contractors, officials and politicians in the awarding of civic contracts.
The incident has now exposed the inherent loopholes in the system, which allows a demoted contractor to get away and bid for a contract anyway.
The contractor can do this by producing his grades obtained from some other government agency, thus making the BMC's demotion almost redundant.
The civic body demoted the contractor, RP Shah Infraproject Ltd (RPS), about eight months ago from 'A+' to 'A' for not even starting work on a school reconstruction project while the deadline had expired.
The demotion meant that the contractor would be able to bid only for tenders worth Rs 3 crore. However, the contractor used his PWD grades, where he is a 'Class one' contractor, to make his bid for the Rs 72 crore road contract that he was eventually short-listed for.
A senior civic official, requesting anonymity, said, "The rules are skewed heavily in favour of the contractor. Most contractors work with multiple agencies. They use their grades from some other agency to bag the contracts."
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta admitted that there were loopholes in the system, "The demotion amounted to almost nothing. We need to strengthen the system to ensure that contractors can't take advantage of such a loophole."
Nitin Shah, owner, RPS said, "We decided to use the PWD registration to be on the safer side. However, we had already been upgraded and hence, we would have been allowed to bid even on our BMC grades and registration."