Despite the civic body’s efforts, errant road contractors have managed to find ways to circumvent the rules while bidding for the latest bunch of 24 road work contracts for construction of minor roads in the city. The cost of the project is Rs375 crore.
One of the rules specified by the civic body is that one contractor can bag a maximum of two contracts. To bypass this, many contractors have floated different front-firms, which have made separate bids in multiple contracts. HT has learnt that a major road works contractor has bid in at least three different names, and is in a strong position to be short-listed for at least five out of the 24 contracts.
A civic engineer from the roads department said: “We have specified that we will not allow any contractor to bag more than two contracts. However, if contractors are putting up front-companies with different registrations and documents, there is not much we can do.”
Of the 24 firms that bid the lowest in the 24 wards, at least one firm, RK Madhani and Co, had been fined in the past for shoddy work on roads that were under the defect liability period (DLP). Incidentally, Madani bagged a contract in the recent Rs577 crore major road works contract.
According to the current system, if a firm is the lowest bidder in more than two wards, it will get the contract in two wards where it has the lowest bidding amounts, thereby giving greater financial benefits to the civic body.
Another cause for concern is that these contracts will be executed at the ward level, where there will be no supervision and monitoring of the work.
Former chief engineer and member of the HC-appointed Road Monitoring committee Nandkumar Salvi said, “Contractors are bidding low because they have the assurance that ward-level staff will go easy on them, even if they don’t perform.”
A contractor said, “Only those contractors who want to get away with shoddy quality and manipulation submit bids for these ward-level works. It is an unwritten code that of the total work allotted, only around 45% work has to be done. The rest is overlooked rather conveniently.”
Despite repeated attempts, additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta as well as chief engineer, roads department, Satish Badve remained unavailable for comment.