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Pune businessman ‘confessed to forming cartel to rig the bid’

CCI report on PMC clearly states that businessman Bipin Vijay Salunke confessed to having formed a cartel to rig the tender bid

pune Updated: Oct 11, 2017 23:53 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,businessman,Vivek Velenkar
The PMC building from where a computer was used to upload the tender documents.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

The Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) Investigation report case no. 50/2015 pertaining to bid rigging and cartelisation at the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) clearly states that Pune businessman Bipin Vijay Salunke confessed to having formed a cartel to rig the bid.

According to the CCI, Salunke, managing director of Ecoman Enviro Solutions, which won the ₹14 crore bid for setting up municipal waste processing plants confessed in his statement under oath that he knew all the competitors bidding in tender nos. 34, 35, 44, 62 and 63 of 2014.

These tenders were floated by PMC during December, 2014 to March, 2015 “for inviting the turnkey contract for ‘Design, Supply, Installation, Commissioning, Operation and Maintenance of Municipal Organic and Inorganic Solid Waste Processing Plant(s)’.

Salunke said that the other bidders for the tenders were known to him one way or the other.

He said Saiprasad S. Prabhukhanolkar (managing director of M/s Lahs Green India Pvt. Ltd.) was his good friend and gave the documents for submitting a cover bid on behalf of Lahs Green India “on their friendship and relationship” for tender nos. 34, 35 and 44 of 2014. Similarly, he requested Ranjit Gugale, a good friend of his, to request his uncle Sanjay Gugale (partner M/s Sanjay Agencies) to place cover bid for tender nos. 62 and 63 of 2014 and also requested Rajesh Goyal, another very good friend, to request his brother-in-law Manoj Kumar Gupta (proprietor, M/s Mahalaxmi Steels) to place cover bid for tender nos. 62 and 63 of 2014.

Bipin Salunke said that he gave the phone numbers belonging to Parimal Salunke (an employee of Ecoman and his cousin) as the contact person for various bidders in the tenders. He confessed that he sent Parimal Salunke to the Pune Municipal Corporation for purchasing/procuring the digital key for M/s Fortified Security Solutions, M/s Lahs Green India Pvt. Ltd., M/s Sanjay Agencies and M/s Mahalaxmi Steels by submitting all the relevant documents and registered his mobile numbers as mentioned above for telephonic verification by the PMC.

He also confessed that the bank demand drafts for earnest money deposit (EMD) for various bidders in various tenders were prepared by Parimal Salunke on his instructions.

The investigative report said that the statements on oath of partner/directors/proprietor in other firms who were a part of the cartel also corroborated that Bipin Vijay Salunke requested them to act as proxy/dummy bidders in the said tenders.

“Thus, it can be concluded that Shri Bipin Vijay Salunke is the main person behind this cartel activity who requested and coordinated with the other bidders to act as proxy bidders and submit the bids,” the CCI said in its report.

ACTIVISTS SPEAK: Municipal Commissioner needs to act immediately...

Vijay Kumbhar, RTI activist

Although cartelisation in the PMC tender process is a common practice, this is the first time that it has come on record. In fact, when Nagrik Chetna Manch approached the Competition Commission of India, it was expected that the Municipal Commissioner would have intervened and launched an inquiry. Making everything online does not mean the end of corruption. On the contrary, this case has exposed how the online tender system has been misused and documents uploaded from the Municipal Corporation itself.

Given the serious strictures on the Pune Municipal Corporation, the commissioner needs to act immediately and blacklist the agency. Not only that, but also launch an inquiry into all the garbage processing units.

It is sad that the Competition Commission of India needed to remind the Municipal Commissioner that he is the head of the institute and needs to address the systemic failures. In this case, it is appears that those who were appointed to take care of the interest of the Municipal Corporation have joined hands with vested interests.

The commissioner, by not looking into such matters, is indirectly promoting and wrong practices in the Municipal Corporation.

Vivek Velenkar, civic activist

Vivek Velankar ( Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO )

If we are serious about transparency, the municipal commissioner should immediately launch an inquiry into various cases. Since he is maintaining silence on various wrong practices, he is indirectly and unintentionally sending the message that he is supporting corrupt practices. Maj Gen SCN Jatar took a lot of efforts to follow this case with the Competition Commission of India. He was objecting all along, but the Municipal administration did not pay heed.

Although there has been a long-pending demand that all the officers who are serving in the same department for long time need to be transferred, no action has been taken. In this case, the same officer has been heading the Solid Waste management department (Suresh Jagtap) for the last 12 years.

There is corruption at every plant in PMC’s solid waste management. The PMC is giving priority to establishing new plants but not taking care of the plants which are not working. Instead of erecting new plants, the PMC needs to ensure that existing plants are made operational.

Abhay Chajjed, senior Congress leader

Abhay Chajjed ( HT PHOTO )

It is unfortunate that the Pune Municipal Corpoation is getting defamed in a such way. If the Competition Commission of India has brought forth some serious issues, it must be looked into. Even the Municipal Corporation needs to address the systemic failures.

The bid rigging that has happened is really worrying. Recently, the Municipal Commissioner had to bypass the Estimate committee in the 24x7 water scheme. When elected members objected, the tender cost came down. One can understand that sometimes, the the contractor is genuine and gives good performance and the Municipal Corporation should try and encourage them. But it is not the administration’s role to collude with them on bids. Some years ago, the PMC’s vigilance committee came up with some ideas to improve the tendering system which needs to be followed.

Vandana Chavan, MP and city unit president of NCP

Vandana Chavan ( HT PHOTO )

Pune is the city of active citizens. First, I must congratulate Nagrik Chetna Manch’s SCN Jatar for bringing all these things on record. Though NCP was ruling in PMC, I use to raise various wrong practices related to garbage. The PMC is erecting new plants, but not taking care of existing plants. This raises doubts in the minds of citizens. Why are the old plants not working effectively? The Competition Commission of India also passed the strictures on the municipal commissioner. As per the municipal corporation act, the commissioner is responsible for supervision. Commissioner delegates power to other officers. This mean not he can run away from the responsibility . He should conduct an inquiry into this matter.

First Published: Oct 11, 2017 23:51 IST