The desilting scam rocked the civic body last year after it exposed the nexus between the civic officials and the contractors. This prompted the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to tighten the eligibility norms for contractors bidding for desilting projects.
However, the civic body now finds itself in a tight spot as they have not been successful in appointing contractors for desilting projects even after floating tenders thrice in the past three months.
The BMC has now issued 29 tenders to clean major and minor storm water drains. Officials said the tenders had to be cancelled twice as the contractors had asked for amounts higher than the estimated rates, and the tenders for cleaning minor nullahs did not receive any response. The civic body cancelled all 45 tenders and decided to re-invite them.
A civic official, who did not wish to be named, said, “The tenders for cleaning minor nullahs have not received any response. The bids for major nullahs were so high that they had to be re-invited. If we still don’t get the expected response for the minor nullahs, we will have to get the work done at the local level.”
Last month, the civic body had issued 41 tenders and the storm water drains department had qualified 16 and they were recommended to the standing committee. Civic chief asked for the remaining ones to be re-tendered. The contractors had bid 60% to 98% above the estimated rates, said civic sources.
Some civic officials said the poor response is the result of the ongoing tussle between the civic body and the contractors following the nullah desilting scam.
A contractor, on condition of anonymity, said, “After the desilting scam, there are chances that the civic body will repeat the same with us this year. They will get the work done from us, set up an inquiry and not pay us.”
Mehta, meanwhile, has asked the zonal deputy municipal commissioners (DMC) to start the cleaning work in wards under their jurisdiction.
LS Vhatkar, chief engineer of SWD department, said, “Around 75% of the desilting work on major nullahs can begin on time as several tenders have been recommended while the others have been re-invited as per the instructions of civic chief.”
Last year, 32 contractors were debarred from bidding for civic contracts after they were found carrying out fraudulent practices after the desilting scam came to light.