While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is finally cracking a whip on errant contractors following the road repair scam, here’s the reason why they had a free-run despite mechanisms being in place.
It has now emerged that the BMC almost killed the Standing Technical Advisory Committtee (STAC), a panel of experts meant to monitor road-related work. The state-appointed STAC, constituted after a Bombay high court order, was rather systematically sidelined.
And the result is now for all to see. Following the recent scam, contractors have been severely indicted for defects in the way the roads have been designed, also indicating a failure in the way the work was supervised.
Experts on the panel, who are senior engineers from various national institutes and some also part of Central government committees, said that the BMC did not call for any meeting and some of them have even resigned.
The STAC was formed by former municipal commissioner Johny Joseph in 2004 based on a state government directive to have guidelines for road repairs. After the committee submitted its report, the BMC directed all contractors to follow the recommendations on road design, contract size, tendering process, drainage, digging by utility providers and defect liability periods.
STAC chairman SR Tambe told HT, “The BMC has stopped conducting regular meetings with the committee to take advice on any of road-related issue. The last meeting was held more than six months ago.”
Former chairman NV Mirani slammed the civic body for killing the body whose active participation could have stopped further irregularities. “After additional municipal commissioner SVR Srinivas took charge of the road department, he started sidelining the committee. There is a written manual on how roads should be designed and possible corrective measures,” he said.
“The committee had also given guidelines about which roads should be taken for repairs but civic officials completely ignored this. It was done in collusion with contractors and officers to benefit each other,” added Mirani.
When asked about why the recommendations were not considered and STAC meetings not been held, a senior civic official from the road department said, “It Srinivas’s decision to not hold the meetings. Also, some senior officials of the department supported this move so that they can do whatever want without ant restriction.”