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HT Impact: Mumbai civic chief sets Dec 26 deadline to complete roads scam probe

If investigating officers don’t meet deadline, action will betaken against them, BMC chief Ajoy Mehta said.

mumbai Updated: Nov 14, 2017 09:26 IST
Sanjana Bhalerao
Sanjana Bhalerao
Hindustan Times
On Monday, HT reported that six months after issuing show-cause notices to 100 BMC engineers responsible for the maintenance of 34 roads, no action had been taken. (HT File/ Photo for representational purpose)

A day after Hindustan Times reported of the delay in inquiry against 100 civic engineers allegedly involved in the road scam unearthed last year, civic chief Ajoy Mehta set a December 26 deadline to complete investigations. If inquiry officers fail to comply with the deadline, action will be initiated against them, he said.

The letter by the civic chief read: “If the above time limit is not followed strictly, it will be presumed that you are not working in the interest of MCGM [Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai] and are supporting the delinquents by delaying the inquiry and action deemed fit will be initiated against you.”

On Monday, HT reported that six months after issuing show-cause notices to 100 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) engineers responsible for the maintenance of 34 roads, no further action has been initiated. This was because the engineers, in their reply to the notices, had asked the BMC to provide documents related to 34 roads. But the richest civic body in the country is struggling to scan this evidence, which includes road contracts and approvals given by the engineers. With no infrastructure available to scan the documents on its own, the civic body decided to outsource the work to a company. The BMC is likely to take another six months to complete the process. The delay is being viewed as a tactic used by the engineers’ lobby in the civic body.

Mehta has now asked the officers to provide documents either in the form of paper copies or compact discs (CDs) in the next five days. The 100 road engineers will have then time until November 27 to submit their replies. The final report will have to be submitted to the commissioner by December 26th, according to the orders.

In addition, Mehta has also given a timeline for the second phase of the inquiry, in which 170 engineers responsible for 200 other roads, are yet to be served with notices for shoddy work. The final report will have to be submitted to the commissioner by January 31.

The irregularities in the road repairs and reconstruction work worth Rs1,000 crore had rocked the Mumbai civic body in 2015. The inquiry committee had found the use of inferior quality material, differences in the thickness of the roads repaired and what was presented on paper. The inquiry found that at many places, the contractor did not dig roads or remove debris, but claimed transport bills for the work. The inflated and fake transport bills caused the BMC huge losses, the inquiry committee report had said. In the first phase of the inquiry, two senior officials — former chief engineer roads Ashok Pawar and former chief engineer vigilance Uday Murudkar — were among those arrested.

First Published: Nov 14, 2017 09:22 IST