Deputy chairman of Maharashtra legislative council Vasant Davkhare has courted controversy by allegedly trying to influence a government agency to expedite payment to a firm that had violated tender conditions and whose bid to block retendering of the project work was shot down by the high court. He has, however, denied any wrongdoing.
In March, Davkhare wrote to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) asking why a consortium, BPL-BCC, that had completed 86% of the contracted work in the Mithi river widening project, had not been paid even after two years.
Davkhare asked Ashwini Bhide, MMRDA joint commissioner, to stop new tenders to be floated for completing the unfinished work of rock blasting in the Mithi river, and resolve the issue at the earliest through a tribunal. An RTI query filed by Anil Galgali of a non-government organisation, Athak Seva Sangh, has revealed that the work, contracted in April 2007, was not completed within a stipulated span of 15 months.
Bhide wrote back to Davkhare on May 5, stating, “The contractor completed only 10% of the work in the stipulated period. MMRDA gave extension to contractor till June 2009, but the firm could finish merely another 10% of the work. Despite this, we were willing to give additional extension, but the contractor did not comply with tender conditions.” Bhide added that eventually the contract was cancelled and new tenders were floated. He further said that BPL-BCC had approached the high court, which dismissed the petition and allowed the retendering process.
Galgali said that politicians should stand for a public cause and not for contractors. “I have written to the chief minister to conduct an independent inquiry against Davkhare and blacklist the contractor in the state.”
Davkhare said writing recommendation letters is part of a politician’s routine. “It is wrong to say I tried to pressurise MMRDA. I am open to any inquiry.”