The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) much-hyped road repair inquiry report has played down the actual loss incurred owing to serious irregularities in the road work. By undermining the important elements of the repairs, the report has claimed the scam to be of Rs14 crore against the total contract cost of Rs352 crore.
The Opposition and activists said the inquiry report has excluded a lot of key points, which could favour the contractors. A civic source said, the report has many discrepancies such as only focusing on base work of the repairs of the road or crest and skipping inquiry of other allied works including barricading along the site during work, repair of foot paths, repair and replacement of side drains.
“The quantum of the scam could have been more if other elements of road repairs had been taken into consideration during the probe,” he added.
The cost of road repair contracts includes its allied activities, which have been given a miss by the inquiry team. According to the report, the inquiry team checked only the work executed pertaining to base of the 34 roads, which had cost civic body Rs27.17 crore, and the loss figure of Rs14.41 crore was arrived at on that basis.
Civic chief Ajoy Mehta said, “In the FIR, we have mentioned only exact loss of amount incurred by the civic body owing to the shoddy job of road repairs done by contractors.”
However, there is another twist in the case as the FIR (a copy of which is with HT) registered by the BMC has only mentioned loss of approximately Rs11 crore. The two different figures raise a serious question over the administration’s action.
The FIR was registered against six contractors and two third party auditors at the Azad Maidan police station.
Citizen activist Nikhil Desai said, “The report has several unexplained things such as why other allied works were not included in the inquiry. It seems the inquiry is only to dilute a major part of the corruption.”
Opposition leader and Congress corporator Pravin Chheda said, “This inquiry report has excluded most of the key points and this could work in favour of the contractors. The contractors have pocketed more than Rs400 crore of public money but the administration is claiming only Rs14.41 crore was involved.”
Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh also raised questions over the report. He said, “The quantum of the irregularities in the road repair work has been diluted, it seems, owing to political pressure on the administration.”