Activist files complaint against TMC chief over bicycle project
Thane Municipal Corporation’s (TMC) rent-a-cycle initiative may come under the anti-corruption bureau’s (ACB) scanner. The project allows people to rent bikes for ₹10 an hour.
On Monday, Right to Information (RTI) activist Pravin Wategaokar filed a complaint with the Thane ACB against civic commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal and two firms, New Age Media Partner Private Limited and Signpost India Private Limited, which are associated with the project.
Wategaokar’s complaint, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times, states that Jaiswal cleared the proposal by New Age Media Partner Private Limited in December 2016. The public- private partnership was given for 15 years and granted the company advertisement rights at 50 bicycle kiosks without issuing tenders.
The complaint states that the proposal was cleared by the TMC’s general body, after which the firm transferred its rights to Signpost India Private Limited.
The work order was issued in the name of the second firm and not the one which had put up the proposal. “The way the project was awarded and transferred is illegal. It attracts offences under section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and sections 405, 409 (criminal breach of trust) of the IPC ,” said Wategaokar.
Signpost India Private Limited’s director refused to comment, saying TMC should respond to it. A spokesperson for New Age Media Partner Private Limited said there was no merit in the complaint.
Jaiswal rubbished the allegations as “baseless and without any substance”. He said, “I am yet to see the complaint. Only then can I give a detailed reply. However, it could be a continuation of the conspiracy against me. As it is a social project on a PPP model where revenue generation is not the objective and TMC does not have to spend money, the basis of the complaint is questionable.”
The civic commissioner said he will seek legal opinion.
“Fifty bicycles were planned at each kiosk near bus stops. This could have earned the firm advertising rights of ₹80,000 to ₹1 lakh a month,” said Wategaokar, who has threatened to move the high court if the ACB does not take action.