If civic amenities in your locality have been in poor condition, they are likely to remain so for a while longer. Almost six months after the old civil works contracts (CWCs) expired on March 31, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is yet to take a decision on adopting the new set of contracts, with the contractors thwarting its efforts at every step of the way.
The CWCs include all spot maintenance work of gardens, civic hospitals, drainage lines and civic markets, among other things.
In an attempt to loosen the contractor-official-corporator nexus, the BMC has reduced the number of contractors from 110 to 31, and also introduced a separate category called road work contractors to ensure expertise in road work at the ward level.
However, the bids for the new contractors were as excessively low as earlier – about 40% to 60% below the BMC’s estimated cost — raising doubts about the quality of work to be carried out. In an attempt to overcome the issue of quality, the BMC then decided to let contractors execute one or two works on trial basis and check whether they could produce good work within the rates quoted. However, most of the 31 contractors have refused to abide by this condition.
Likewise, the new RWC system has also seen abnormally low estimates. “Several contractors have objections to carrying out work on a trial basis and did not accept the work order. We will take a call on the contracts in the coming week,” said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner.
Indicating the BMC could issue tenders again, Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner, said: “The contracts may be cancelled or we may give them for a reduced time period.” The current time period is two years.
The BMC decided to bring in a series of systemic changes after civic chief accountant (finance), Ram Dhas, wrote an internal note highlighting the official-contractor nexus and corruption at the ward level in March.
Activists blame the BMC for letting the contractors have an upper hand. “It seems like the contractors are in control. Naturally, work will continue to be of poor quality,” said Adolf D’souza, Juhu-based activist and former citizen corporator.
Corporators said the indecision was affecting work. “The BMC should go for retendering and increase the additional security deposit, which has been reduced from 3% to 1%, to ensure better quality of work,” said Dnyanraj Nikam, Congress corporator.