In a controversial decision that could set a wrong precedent in the civic contract allotment system, the standing committee on Monday passed a proposal to rent out compactors for garbage collection to a joint venture which includes a firm owned by member of legislative assembly (MLA) and Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi.
As per BMC norms, corporators are not allowed to have stakes in any of the firms that bag civic contracts.
The Rs176.4-crore contract, bagged by a joint venture of three firms, one of which is owned by Azim, has been awarded by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for renting out compactors to collect garbage from areas of Bandra, Santacruz, Khar, Vile Parle and Andheri.
The three firms — MK Enterprises, Global Waste Management Sale Private Limited and Gulf Hotel (owned by Azmi) — will take over waste collection in these areas for a period of four years beginning July this year. The joint venture of MK Enterprises bagged the contract being the lowest bidder among three bidders, the criterion followed by the BMC to appoint contractors for civic work.
No other party except the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) opposed the decision. “There are strict norms that corporators cannot get involved in any of the civic contracts. There is an affidavit that has been taken from us to abide by this. Then why is an exception made in the case of MLAs or MPs?” said Sandeep Deshpande, MNS corporator and civic standing committee member.
Deshpande added that the supervision of work would be gravely affected in such a scenario. “Will the BMC even penalise the firm and have good control over the contract when it is owned by a politician?” asked Deshpande.
However, refuting the allegations made by committee members and defending the decision, additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota said: “Legal opinion was sought and due procedure for handing out the contract has been followed. There is no provision to reject the contract because it is owned by a MLA”.
“I am not hiding anything in this contract as the law allows an MLA to file a tender. Unlike many other politicians who bag contracts using the name of their relatives or some other third party, this is a fair, transparent contract,” said Azmi.