In the legislature on Wednesday, the state government took up issues vital to Mumbai.
The government said it wants to blacklist contractors that do a shoddy job of cleaning the city’s nullahs and gutters and assured that adequate medicine stocks would be made available at Mahatma Phule Hospital at Vikhroli. The government also announced immediate measures to avoid accidents caused by elevators used on construction sites.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan told the Legislative Council that not all the work on cleaning nullahs and gutters was satisfactory and that many contractors failed to meet their deadlines. “Contractors who can’t satisfy the requirements should be blacklisted,” he said in reply to a question raised by Congress MLC Subhash Chavan. The cleaning work is contracted out by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
The chief minister said a penalty of Rs21.32 lakh was levied on errant contractors. Subhash asked whether the government had any control over the civic body’s “reckless” spending on cleaning nullahs.
The Nationalist Congress Party’s Kiran Pawaskar asked Prithviraj if the state was taking action against contractors who forced their employees to work in unhealthy conditions and hired minors.
Prithviraj said the responsibility of the workers lay with the contractors. “Safeguarding workers’ health and ensuring they get paid enough is the binding on the contractors. These conditions are laid down in the contracts they sign with the civic body,” he said.
Prithviraj said that during the last monsoon the civic body removed 4.25 lakh litres of sludge from the 292 km of gutters and nullahs the city has.
“The most common violations are ignoring to spray deodourisers over the nullahs after the work is done, not dredging them with proper equipment, not disposing of the sludge properly and failing to meet the deadline,” said the chief minister.
On the Mahatma Phule Hospital issue, raised by MLC Alka Desai, Prithviraj said he would personally look into the shortage of medicines and staff. “We have also proposed a 10-bed intensive care unit at the hospital,” Prithviraj said.
Minister of state for housing Sachin Ahir said the government would examine the issue of material hoists — lifts used to carry material on construction sites. For passenger lifts, he said the government would insist on a tri-party agreement for lift maintenance between the developer, authority and contractor. In case of Slum Rehabilitation Authority projects, the government would insist on ISO certification.
The issue came up in the Legislative Council when MLC Hemant Takle mentioned a Matunga lift collapse case that occurred in January, killing six workers.
Rs 10,000-crore scam in slum rehab project: Sena
Mumbai: Shiv Sena MLC Ramdas Kadam alleged a Rs10,000-crore scam in the redevelopment project being carried out by Shivalik Builders at the 140-acre Golibar slum in Santacruz.
Kadam said 38 acres of the land belonged to the defence establishment. He also displayed a “top secret Income-Tax Department document” that allegedly said that Niira Radia — the well-known public relations consultant named in the 2G telecom scam — had invested Rs750 crore in the project.
Golibar, Mumbai’s largest slum after Dharavi, is located 3 km from the airport. The 60-year-old settlement is considered a real estate gold mine. It hit the headlines in February when some of its residents were served eviction notices.
“The state government ignored development rules and okayed the project. I have documents to show that 13,000 of the hutments are on defence land, which has been included in the project. Radia has pumped money into the redevelopment too. We want a judicial inquiry against the builder, Radia and the authorities concerned,” Kadam said.
Minister of state for housing Sachin Ahir rubbished the allegations. “Even the City Civil Court said that the plot Kadam is referring to belongs to Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority. It’s the adjoining plot that belongs to the defence establishment; we have not proposed any redevelopment on it. Also, redevelopment cannot take place without the consent of 70% of the slum dwellers,” Ahir said.
He ruled out a judicial inquiry. “As far as Radia is concerned, the issue is being addressed by the Enforcement Directorate and the Income-Tax Department. If the Opposition has any additional information, we will look into it,” he added.
The Opposition staged a walkout, alleging state bias.