The fish market was taken up for demolition in 2016, following the collapse of a building at Dockyard Road.(Shankar Narayan/HT file photo. Representative image)
The fish market was taken up for demolition in 2016, following the collapse of a building at Dockyard Road.(Shankar Narayan/HT file photo. Representative image)

Contractors write to BMC, allege tender for demolition of fish market was fixed

On July 12, BMC had floated a short quotation tender for the demolition of the dilapidated market. A short quotation tender is floated when there is an emergency to conduct a work, while following the traditional manner of tendering.
By Mehul R Thakkar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 25, 2021 06:58 AM IST

Five contractors have written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) alleging that the tendering process for the demolition of one of the city’s oldest markets – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Fish Market – at Fort has been fixed.

On July 12, BMC had floated a short quotation tender for the demolition of the dilapidated market. A short quotation tender is floated when there is an emergency to conduct a work, while following the traditional manner of tendering.

The fish market was taken up for demolition in 2016, following the collapse of a building at Dockyard Road, in which municipal employees and their families had lost their lives. However, only four floors of the market were pulled down and the ground floor as well as the basement were left out.

The Bombay high court had pulled up BMC, following which the civic body had submitted that it would undertake the structure’s demolition and rebuild it. BMC then floated short quotations tender for demolition of the remaining part of the structure.

The five contractors have alleged that one contractor was informed about the tender in advance and that as per the tender they were given only day to submit the bids. The contractor, allegedly along with his dummy associates (to show competitive bidding), submitted the tender and bagged the contract. The five contractors have alleged that over 40 other registered contractors were not informed about the tender.

Mohammed Hussain, whose firm Moosa Uka & Company has sent the letter to BMC, said, “This is fixing of the tender and it is going on from quite a few months. We had brought it to BMC’s earlier too, but no action was taken. We will take BMC to the court if the awarded contract is not cancelled and an inquiry is not ordered into the same.”

BMC, however, denied all the allegations. Assistant municipal commissioner Chanda Jadhav said, “This is a court matter. The court directed BMC’s market department to demolish the market immediately. As per directions, a short tender notice inviting quotation from registered demolition contractors was displayed on the [A ward] office notice board, as the SAP system (software), including BMC portal, was closed for upgradation.”

BMC had not pre-decided the cost of the demolition work. In such demolition contracts, the usual practice is that the contractor demolishes the structure and is allowed to sell the scrap material from the demolition as profit. However, whichever contractor offers the highest ratio of the amount to be obtained by selling the scrap material is awarded the contract by BMC.

Matiullah Khan of MK Traders, which bagged the contract, said, “All allegations made against me by the five contractors are baseless. Even others had submitted the tender. So why did they not fill it? Their job is only to extort money from those getting the work.”

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