If there’s anyone who has got the best deal from the much-delayed Rs43,000 crore Mumbai makeover, it is the consultancy firms. For, the consultants, who assisted the state authorities by drawing feasibility studies, bid documents and supervising projects have raked in at least Rs37 crore in the last six years.
However, many of the big projects that cost hefty consultancy fees have been plagued by delays or dropped. In six years, state agencies such as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) have paid consultants an estimated Rs37 crore for 22 projects ranging from flyovers to sea links.
Of the 22 projects, eight have been indefinitely delayed or sent to the drawing board. For instance, the MSRDC paid consultants Rs7.98 crore for preparing feasibility and environment reports for the proposed Worli-Haji Ali link and its extension, the Haji Ali-Nariman Point link. These links are likely to be dropped for a coastal road.
Similarly, the MSRDC has coughed up Rs1.60 crore as consultancy fee on the proposed Peddar Road flyover, which has been on the anvil for seven years and is likely to get dropped. Another example is the cable-stayed bridge on Gorai creek proposed by MMRDA. After spending Rs34.52 lakh on consultancy fees, there is no clarity on whether it will ever be built.
“For projects that have been altered or delayed, crores of rupees have been wasted,” said Priya Khan of Socio Political Analysis and Research Kendra (Spark) that analyses state government’s budget and policies.
Khan – in reply to an RTI application filed through Spark -- got information on the fees paid to consultancy firms for Mumbai makeover. “In most cases, consultants are paid to supervise work and ensure that the contractor complies with the conditions mentioned in the tender documents. No responsibility is pinned on them in case of delayed or sub-standard work,” said BJP legislator Devendra Phadnavis.
Phadnavis plans to raise this issue in the coming budget session of the state legislature.
Jaydutt Kshirsagar, public works minister in-charge of MSRDC, said, “I cannot comment offhand on the consultation fees. We need consultants to help in big projects as we don’t have enough expertise.”