Corporator-contractor nexus behind delay in road works?
Although the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)'s standing committee continues to approve proposals at breakneck speed--last week it cleared 87 proposals worth around Rs 600crore in just 10 minutes - its decision to withhold approval to allotting contracts for 600 minor roads in the city for two consequent weeks has baffled many.mumbai Updated: Dec 16, 2011 01:27 IST
Although the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)'s standing committee continues to approve proposals at breakneck speed--last week it cleared 87 proposals worth around Rs 600crore in just 10 minutes - its decision to withhold approval to allotting contracts for 600 minor roads in the city for two consequent weeks has baffled many.
Hindustan Times has now learnt that the delay is because road contractors have been pressurising corporators to ensure that there is no third-party auditor to keep a vigil on road works. The civic body has already proposed to appoint SGS Consultants, an international firm that has been supervising work on major roads, to supervise minor road works too.
Some contractors claimed that after bidding low, strong scrutiny would mean smaller profit margins for them. In addition, contractors are also unhappy with the civic body's proposal to hand them one road less, and instead, allot work worth around Rs 18crore to Carboncor, a new technology. The short-listed contractors have even met senior civic officials, opposing the entry of Carboncor.
Citizens are clearly not impressed. Citizen activist Utsal Karani said: "This appears to be a case of collusion between contractors and corporators. They should realise that ordinary citizens have to continue to suffer bad roads because of this."
Said another short-listed contractor, who has been short-listed for roadwork in one ward: "We have seen how SGS is supervising the work on the major roads and the scrutiny it maintains leaves hardly any room for us to protect our profit margins. When we had submitted low bids, we weren't aware that SGS was to be appointed. With SGS for scrutiny, after working at such low rates, there is no way we'll be able to make profits on these works."
Incidentally, many members of the committee had opposed the appointment of SGS and demanded that the BMC float tenders and appoint another agency instead.
Another short-listed road contractor said: "We are firmly opposing Carboncor's back-door entry into this contract." He did not wish to be named.
A senior Congress corporator and member of the standing committee, summed it up: "Contractors have clearly told us that if we allow the entry of SGS and Carboncor, then they will not 'support' us, especially in the upcoming elections. Hence, we need to settle this issue before we approve the proposal."
Congress corporator Sameer Desai said that the party was not against the inclusion of either. "We demand that both SGS and Carboncor be included to ensure better roads," he said.
Standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale said: "We had other important issues to discuss and hence, ran out of time in the meeting. There is no other reason for a delay in taking a decision on the minor roads contract."