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Careless BMC goofs up again

Despite questions being raised about the manner in which the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) assigns contracts, its attitude remains unchanged. In August, the controversy was over Rs 550-crore road construction contracts. Now, the row is over Rs 227-cr water contracts.

mumbai Updated: Sep 17, 2011 00:55 IST
Sujit Mahamulkar
Sujit Mahamulkar
Hindustan Times

Despite questions being raised about the manner in which the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) assigns contracts, its attitude remains unchanged. In August, the controversy was over Rs 550-crore road construction contracts. Now, the row is over Rs 227-cr water contracts.

The BMC has awarded a water project contract to a firm, to RP Shah Infra Projects Ltd (RPS Infra), without verifying the documents, and officials have now discovered that the firm had been disqualified less than two weeks ago from a road contract for not disclosing important information during the bidding process. The disqualification was reported in HT’s September 7 edition.

“It is a known fact that there is a nexus between the contractor, politician and administration in the civic body,” said senior Congress corporator Rajendraprasad Chaube. “As per the civic proceedings, the agenda of the meeting should have been circulated at least 48 hours earlier, but that did not happen in this case. The water project proposal was circulated to committee members late in the evening and was cleared next day afternoon.”

“While submitting reports about a contractor’s work, BMC officials often don’t submit anything against the contractor for previous shoddy work,” said a senior official.

Officials made the discovery during a second scrutiny that RPS Infra had not disclosed information that it has not yet completed building the retaining wall along the Mithi river. “After the road department told us, we scrutinised all documents submitted by RPS Infra as a precautionary measure,” said a water department official.

On Friday, the BMC sought legal opinion on whether it should cancel the Rs 70-crore water project contract. The project work has been stayed till October 1, pending decision.

The BMC had floated tenders to allot contracts worth Rs 244 crore, aimed at improving the city’s water distribution network by laying new pipelines. On September 9, the civic standing committee cleared the proposal, and contracts were given to six contractors - RPS Infra, Kishor Projects Pvt Ltd, RK Madhani and Company, Skyway Infra Projects Ltd, Perfect Engineering Associates Pvt Ltd and Bharat Construction. On September 13, the work order was issued.

Nitin Shah from RPS Infra said the firm has not done anything wrong. “We have submitted clarifications from our side to the road department and are also ready to give them to the water department,” Shah said.

Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, said: “A few things go wrong in the system, I should correct that.”

First Published: Sep 17, 2011 00:53 IST