Picture this: The ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in the civic body opposes the contracts for milk supply and shoes for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) schools last week. Later, they suggest some additions to the tenders and send the contracts back to the administration. But, on Friday, the same contracts, worth Rs137 crore, get standing committee clearance without any change. Reason: "the responsibility of the BMC to supply shoes and milk to civic school students well in time."
A week after its opposition to the supply of milk to civic school students, the ruling alliance changed its stand and cleared tenders worth Rs121 crore on Friday.
Standing committee members had deferred the decision on the tenders at its meeting on May 14, stating that the contractor who supplied milk earlier had been made part of the contract again while packaging could be done by another agency. To avoid the risk with milk supply, alternate options such as biscuits and chikki were also put forward.
Explaining the reason behind the change, standing committee member and education committee chairman Vitthal Kharatmol, said: "It is up to the officials to look into the contracts. We expressed our concerns but passed the proposal so that the students are not deprived of necessary nutrition from milk."
Interestingly, the milk will be supplied by a supplier who was in controversy after complaints of food poisoning last year.
Also, amid the opposition's claims of alleged misconduct and lack of transparency in issuing tenders, the ruling alliance cleared a proposal of around Rs17.27 crore to buy shoes for civic school students. The ruling alliance had earlier rejected the proposal questioning the credentials of the bidder and the unavailability of socks.
"In the market, the shoes are priced at 32% less than what the bidder is offering. There should have been further negotiations with the company to bring the prices down, instead of passing the tender," said Dilip Lande, group leader, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
Rais Sheikh, group leader from Samajwadi Party, raised questions over the transparency in the tender process. "There should be an inquiry on why this tender was delayed so much. The tender process started in November, but it seems that the BMC administration was sitting on the proposal till March, for reasons best known to them," he said.