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BMC requires consultants for almost every civil work

In past two years, it has appointed as many as 70 consultants for various civic works, reports Uma Upadhyaya.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2006 22:48 IST

In 2005, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wanted to build a wall behind Mayor's bungalow.

Before floating a tender for the same, it appointed a consultant to get an advice on how the wall needed to be constructed.

This year, when it wanted to revamp the Out Patient Department (OPD) of the civic hospitals, it appointed yet another consultant. Hiring a consultant firm even for general civic work seems to be the civic body's obsession.

Works where consultants appointed:

The major ones

*PCE Consulting Engineers have been appointed by the water supply projects department for construction of two tunnels

*VJTI has been appointed for the work of repairs of pipelines in Worli and Borivali

And the minor ones  

*Consultants have been appointed for revamp of Out Patients Department (OPD) at various civic hospitals

*M/S Structwell designers and consultants appointed for reconstruction of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule market

*M/S Shashi Prabhu and Associates have been appointed for beautification of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar garden, Chembur

In past two years, it has appointed as many as 70 consultants for various civic works - many of which could be done by its own experienced administration in the concerned departments.

The consultants are charging the civic body fees which can be anything from Rs 1.50 lakh to Rs 2 crore.

A senior engineer of BMC's hydraulic department, who is not authorised to talk to the media, said, "We have the expertise and there is a separate full-fledged department for various water projects. Despite this, consultants have been appointed where actually they are not required at all. It is just wastage of taxpayers' money."

Municipal Commissioner Johny Joseph sought to justify the civic body's decisions. "We appoint consultants for only projects where expertise is required like water and sewage projects. There is no in-house technical know-how for various infrastructural works and it becomes necessary to appoint consultants for these highly engineered works."

The ruling saffron alliance also justifies its stand to clear proposals for appointing consultants for various works. Parag Alavani, BJP leader in the BMC, said, "We are short of engineers and recruitment had been stalled for quite some time."

Sunil Prabhu, Sena leader in the BMC agrees, "We clear only those proposals for appointing consultants where technical assistance is necessary."

However, Ravindra Pawar, NCP leader in the BMC who has always been critical of private consultants, differed. "It seems that BMC is run by consultants. We are wasting a lot of money on consultants every year. Most of the times, these consultants are appointed unnecessarily and are taking the corporation for a ride. We have around 5,000 capable engineers and if it is a question of knowledge of new techniques, they can be trained which will prove to be an asset to the corporation."

Citing example of Brihanmumbai Strom Water Drain (BRIMSTOWAD) project wherein Watson Hawksley consultants submitted the recommendations for augmentation of the storm water drainage system for Mumbai more than a decade ago, Pawar added, "Many a times, these recommendations are not followed. The civic administration realised the importance of the BRIMSTOWAD project only after last year's deluge."

First Published: Dec 19, 2006 22:48 IST