PMC bid-rigging scam: No action yet from Pune civic chief
Kunal Kumar maintains stony silence on CCI report on cartelisation and bid-rigging Rs 14 crore solid waste management tendering processpune Updated: Oct 21, 2017 16:28 IST
Ten days after Hindustan Times exposed severe strictures passed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) on cartelisation and bid-rigging in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), civic commissioner Kunal Kumar has failed to take any action in the matter.
The IAS officer has neither made an official statement on the issue, nor has he announced a probe to identify the deeper dimensions of the bid-rigging at the PMC. He has also failed to initiate steps against blacklisting the firm Ecoman Enviro Solutions Pvt Limited, whose director Bipin Vijay Salunke confessed to CCI about forming a cartel to win the bid.
“I will go through the report first and will then give a reaction,” was what Kumar said on October 17, when asked to comment on the matter and specify what action he plans to take. It is now 10 days since the first report appeared on this issue.
In August, the PMC had scrapped the tendering process for the Rs 3,300 crore 24x7 water scheme amidst allegations by opposition leaders, and a faction of the BJP, of bid-rigging and complicity of civic officials.
HT’s front page report on October 10 (Cartel stink in Pune’s garbage plant tenders) highlighted how the CCI suspected a nexus between PMC officials and contractors in the civic body’s tendering process of 2014 for thermal composting garbage plants.
Following a complaint from the Nagrik Chetna Manch, an NGO of citizen-activists, the CCI conducted a probe and found a bidders’ cartel at work. It also found that the contractors and officers had telephonic conversations on multiple occasions and tender documents were uploaded through a computer belonging to the municipal corporation.
The commission, in its November 2016 report named Sanjay Atmaram Gawade (assistant municipal commissioner), Ravindra Krishnanath Mulay (branch engineer) and Suresh Jagtap (joint municipal commissioner and head of solid waste management department) as the officials whose claims and involvement needed to be examined by the PMC.
The CCI took municipal commissioner Kumar’s statements on oath and said it was not satisfied by the replies given by Kumar as he “did not address the relevant issues”.
It blamed the PMC of “systemic failure” and said “the PMC and commissioner cannot run away from it though there is no direct involvement of the municipal commissioner in the tender process.”
The tenders pertained to seven thermal composting plants at various locations including Kharadi, Ghole Patil road and Peshwe Park, and were worth Rs 14 crore.
The CCI report said there was understanding “among the participants” to ensure that the tender went to Ecoman Enviro Solutions Pvt Limited.