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Mumbai roads scam: 84 BMC engineers found guilty again

The probe was into the scam was divided into two parts – phase 1 covering 34 roads that were to be repaired at a cost of Rs352 crore and phase 2 covering 200 roads to be repaired at a cost of Rs1,700 crore

mumbai Updated: Feb 24, 2018 10:08 IST
Sanjana Bhalerao
Sanjana Bhalerao
Hindustan Times
BMC,Mumbai,Mumbai roads
While activists and politicians demanded harsher punishment for those found guilty, corporators alleged the civic body was bowing to the pressure of the engineers’ lobby. (HT FILE)

Of the 185 civic engineers who faced investigation in the two phases of inquiry into the road scam, 84 were found guilty in both, highlighting the nexus between engineers and contractors responsible for construction, maintenance and upkeep of the roads, claim activists.

The probe was into the scam was divided into two parts – phase 1 covering 34 roads that were to be repaired at a cost of Rs352 crore and phase 2 covering 200 roads to be repaired at a cost of Rs1,700 crore. The report on the second phase of the probe which was out on Friday led to sacking of six engineers and 163 getting penalized. Most of the engineers named in the report had a supervisory role and failed to keep a tab on the work done by contractors.

While activists and politicians demanded harsher punishment for those found guilty, corporators alleged the civic body was bowing to the pressure of the engineers’ lobby. “The punishment for those found guilty in both the phases that collectively covered 234 roads should be more stringent. The number of engineers indicted in the second report appears to be lower as engineers became cautious after the scam came to light,” said a civic official.

Gordon D’souza, a citizen activist from Bandra, said, “The condition of roads in Mumbai is very bad, even though the standard of living is high. The punishment is a good move, but they should be imprisoned to prevent such things.”

“The message is out loud and clear. We don’t want the system to collapse as punishing all engineers will hamper the city’s development. The contractors should also be punished,” said Rais Shaikh, from Samjawadi party.

Civic chief Ajoy Mehta has refuted any such pressure. “We conducted an inquiry in a transparent and democratic manner. All engineers were given hearing and there was no injustice.”

The road scam came to light in September 2015, when Mehta, following a letter by then mayor Snehal Ambekar on shoddy roads, appointed an inquiry committee led by then additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh to probe the roads repaired in the previous three years. In most of the cases, the inquiry committee found use of inferior quality material, and discrepancies 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 huge losses to the BMC, according to the inquiry committee report.

First Published: Feb 24, 2018 10:08 IST