Even as the three pothole-filling machines purchased by the civic body for Rs70 crore lie unused, a private contractor is using his own machines to fill the potholes in the city.
The BMC had purchased the machines for Rs3 crore in 2008, paying Rs78 lakh a piece. These were then given to a contractor to maintain and operate for Rs4 crore, the cost of which was then hiked to Rs68 crore. While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had floated tenders to use the machines in October, it is yet to hand out the contracts.
Hindustan Times had, in October last year, reported on the BMC’s plan to appoint an agency at a contract cost of Rs3 crore to fill potholes using these machines. The agency was to fill the potholes between October and March, at a cost of Rs864 for a sqm.
A civic official from the roads department said, “We haven’t been able to decide on what can be done with the machines. It is difficult to make use of these machines, as they cannot be easily taken to the spots where there are potholes. There are several technical issues.”
Defending the move to allow the contractor to use his machines, he said, “The company has agreed to make use of their machines to fill the potholes. If we don’t have to deal with these hassles ourselves, why should we object to the plan?”
According to this year’s pothole-filling contracts, the contractor has been short-listed for four of the total 14 sub-zones and has quoted between Rs1,098 to Rs999 for a sqm. The contractor, who was finalised in October last year, had agreed to fill potholes at a cost of Rs864 for a sqm.