Is the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) going soft on its own staff?
While 10 employees of two third-party quality auditor firms and four engineers of the contractors alleged to be involved in malpractices in road works are in police custody, the civic body is yet to initiate the process of inquiry against its own road engineers.
The only action that the civic officials faced was a suspension of two chief engineers – the then chief engineer (roads) Ashok Pawar and chief engineer (vigilance) Uday Murudkar.
Civic sources revealed that there are likely to be more than 30 civic officials at various levels – from junior engineer to executive engineers – who will come under the scanner for carrying out malpractices in connivance with the contractors and third party auditors in 34 road works that were looked into in the first phase of the road inquiry.
Sources said the delay in the inquiry was due to the civic body not wanting to upset its staff, keeping in mind the pending pre-monsoon work.
Even in the nullah desilting fraud that came to light last year, a departmental inquiry was set up but is yet to submit suggestions against the civic officials.
There were over 80 officials likely to be involved in the scam.
A civic official requesting anonymity said, “We will initiate the inquiry against the officers involved in the road works by the end of this month.”
“A special inquiry officer will be nominated and the role these officers played in the malpractices will be checked,” he added.
Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party group leader, said, “BMC officers are the custodians of public money and are still involved in the conspiracy by designing tender conditions suitable to contractors and approving the works that led to this scam.”
“Their role is a major one in this fraud,” added Shaikh.
As a part of second phase of the road inquiry, civic officials have completed the process of collecting samples by digging pits in all the 208 roads that were under investigation.
These samples will be compared with the tender conditions.
Wherever findings differ from the tender conditions, the irregularities will be calculated. The approximate cost of these roads is Rs 1,000 crores. The BMC is likely to take another six months to compile the report.