Shoddy solution to last-minute job
Consider this – the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation gets the whole year to float tenders, invite contractors and appoint them for various road repair works. But, instead, most major contracts are awarded just months before the rains are to hit the city.mumbai Updated: Aug 10, 2013 00:39 IST
Consider this — the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) gets the whole year to float tenders, invite contractors and appoint them for various road repair works. But, instead, most major contracts are awarded just months before the rains are to hit the city.
Take for instance the contracts for a Rs 620-crore project approved in February-end this year. Of the total 100-odd roads that were to be rebuilt, hardly 20 are ready.
The civic body had short-listed the contractors in October 2012. However, persistent delays plagued the project and the contracts were approved only in December. The contractors, however, got an official nod to start work only between February and March.
Such delays suit every stakeholder involved — the contractor, corporator and the official — except the common man.
After bagging the contracts, these contractors hurry through the road works and cite the rains as a way to cut corners. "A lot of times, when we point flaws in the way work is being carried out, the contractors arm-twist us by using the impending rainfall as an excuse," said a roads department engineer from the eastern suburbs.
Till a few years ago, the civic body would appoint contractors to fill potholes, who would also have to carry out spot repairs of bad roads just before the monsoon hit the city. This would have ensured that these roads don't get worse during the rains. However, for the past two years, the BMC has been floating tenders only in April or May.
Last year, contractors were appointed to fill potholes in the last week of May. This year, they were appointed in June.
According to engineers, the pre-monsoon work serves a dual purpose. "One is to stop the damage caused to that road in the rains. More importantly, if those patches develop potholes, then we could hold these contractors responsible and demand accountability," said a senior civic official, not wishing to be named, adding that with the delay was negating both these positives.
It is here that the role of corporators, especially those in the standing committee, becomes critical. On the eve of the civic elections in 2011, the civic body brought out road contracts worth Rs 375 crore to make nearly 500 new minor roads.
When it came to their approval, the standing panel slammed the civic body in "delaying" the contracts. The panel kept protesting the delay and further delayed the approval by two weeks. The result? The contractors got a confirmation two months later, in February and they could hardly get any roads ready. Even a year later, in December 2012, only 200 of the 528 roads were ready, according to a report by the consultant auditing these works, SGS India Private Ltd.