In its first significant move against contractors who have been cheating taxpayers of their money with shoddy work, the civic body has decided to test the quality of all roads built in the past three to five years.
Experts have since long been advising the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to do this. It’s only now, after facing severe criticism for the state of the city roads, that the BMC has paid heed to the advice.
The BMC plans to have a panel of independent consultants, who will conduct performance evaluation of all roads built in the past three to five years by contractors and are under the defect liability period (DLP).
The BMC, which floated tenders to appoint the consultants a fortnight ago, will also consult the IIT-B on how to do the evaluation.
Currently, it only has a system of third-party audit, where consultants test roads under construction. There is no system to check constructed roads.
Under the new system, consultants will take a sample of the road and test it for materials used. “We will take a crust of the road and test it for two criteria: The quality of materials used and whether the contractor has adhered to the approved road design,” said Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner (roads).
Civic officials said testing would give them sufficient evidence of malpractice. “The biggest problem we face while taking action is that we don’t have enough proof of wrongdoing. We cannot take strict action on contractors if potholes appear on their roads as various utilities keep digging roads,” a civic official said, on condition of anonymity.
Currently, the BMC has 1,138 roads under the DLP.
NV Merani, a former public works department secretary and head of the state-appointed Standing Technical Advisory Committee, said performance evaluation is a must. “It’s the only way in which the BMC will know the real reason behind potholes on DLP roads,” he said.
Officials said the evaluation reports would allow them to take stricter action against contractors. “If we know for sure that a contractor has indulged in malpractices, blacklisting him becomes easy legally,” said Gupta.