The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Saturday suspended the chief engineer of vigilance department along with six sub-engineers, four assistant engineers and three supervisors (mukadams) and lodged cases against seven contractors after a detailed inquiry into the June 19 flooding revealed a nexus between civic officials and contractors.
The 145-page report submitted by a team probing the nullah desilting work in the city, headed by deputy municipal commissioner Prakash Patil earlier this month, exposed fraudulent practices by nine contractors (who were randomly selected) in connivance with the civic engineers, who manipulated records and log books.
Interestingly, the vigilance department of the civic body is in charge of checking quality of the civic work carried out by contractors and report against fraudulent practices.
The committee report revealed the contractors’ claims of desilting and transporting silt to dumping grounds were false. It exposed how the log sheets show one vehicle being used to transport silt by two separate contractors at the same time in two different places. One vehicle that was shown making eight rounds between two sites in a day for 20 hours straight had no record of where the silt was dumped.
Lack of vigilance on the shoddy practices undertaken by contractors led to suspension of engineers. “Even after repeated complaints, reports in the media and discussions in the standing committee meetings regarding the poor quality desilting work and suspicion of fraudulent practices adhered by contractors, vigilance department failed to carry out any inspection and showed incapability following which chief engineer (vigilance) is suspended,” read the BMC’s order.
The civic body has also lodged FIRs against the seven contractors involved in various process of nullah cleaning work — from desilting, transporting silt to vehicle transporting system operators.
The BMC has appointed 32 contractors to carry out nullah desilting work across city. They were responsible for finishing 60% of the desilting work before monsoon, 20% during the rains and remaining 20% after the monsoon.
After the June 19 deluge flooded the city and brought it to a standstill, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta ordered a probe into the nullah desilting work. The BMC has also expanded the scale of inquiry and has also brought remaining 23 contractors under scanner.