While the civic body is easy with its money when it comes to the cost escalation of projects, it does not appear to be acting tough on contractors who don’t finish them on time and deliver substandard services.
Citizen groups as well as the opposition have pointed out that several projects for which cost escalations have been made are either incomplete or have not served any purpose.
The storm water drain department allotted contracts worth Rs 728.55 crore between 2007-2009 under the Brihanmumbai Municipal Storm Water Drain (Brimstowad) project, and spent an additional Rs954 crore later, but the city’s water-logging woes are no closer to an end.
Similarly, contracts worth Rs 17.86 crore were given under the Municipal Sewage Disposal Project –II in 2007-2009, and granted an additional expenditure of Rs23.47 crore later, but the project has been delayed extensively and work on it is progressing at snail’s pace.
In the last two years, the civic body has spent an additional Rs 2,245 crore due to ‘variation’ on account of cost escalation, increase in prices of inputs or expansion of the scope of work.
“What is the point of spending crores over proposals that are not completed? The elected representatives must be more responsible with public money,” said Cyrus Bharucha, a resident of Dadar.
The opposition parties, too, have upped the ante against the Shiv Sena-BJP-ruled civic body ahead of the March 2012 polls. “The Brimstowad project is a classic example. The ruling combine has been approving escalation proposals worth crores, but people are still inconvenienced every time it rains in Mumbai,” said opposition leader, Rajhans Singh. He added that the consultants appointed to give an estimate of the proposals are not doing their job well.
The ruling Shiv Sena, however, insists the variations were cleared in the interest of the city and all the political parties in the civic body approved it.
Sena corporator Rahul Shewale, who has been the chairman of the civic standing committee (which has powers to approve expenditure from civic coffers) for the last two years, said, “Variation proposals are cleared with the view that the projects essential for the people don’t get stuck. It is done with the approval of all parties, including the opposition.”