When the BMC’s standing committee passed proposals worth over Rs 3,000 crore, or 10 per cent of its annual budget, in barely four days last week, over 45 proposals, close to 40 per cent of the 110 tenders approved on the agenda, were passed despite anomalies in their bid costs.
As much as 75 per cent of these proposals have recorded financial bids of less than 20 per cent of the estimated cost. This raises concerns as BMC’s past experience shows that contractors quoting significantly lower than the estimated cost have delivered poor work.
Of the 41 new proposals handed over to members of the standing committee hours before their February 26 meeting, as many as 25 are problematic, mostly due to extremely low bids on estimated cost. During the meeting, 65 proposals worth over Rs 1,800 crore were approved.
Similarly, at the standing committee meeting held on February 21, 27 new proposals were added hours prior to the meeting. Of these, 18 contained tenders related to roads, storm water drains (SWD) and water works across Mumbai, in which contractors have bid at least 15 per cent lower than the estimated cost. The standing committee passed 45 proposals worth over Rs 1,300 crore during the meeting.
These proposals were passed without objection from a single member of the standing committee, including the Opposition. Without debate, the committee approved handing over 142 plots of public open spaces to private agencies for maintenance in contracts worth Rs 155 crore. Contractors here have bid more than 30 per cent lower than the estimated cost.
Standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale, who is now Shiv Sena’s candidate for the Lok Sabha elections from South-central Mumbai, said, “These proposals are for routine works, hence they did not need much discussion. Once the code of conduct sets in, it will be difficult to get these passed, leaving the BMC ill-prepared for the next monsoon season.”
Some anomalies in tender proposals
* Six storm water drains contracts for eastern suburbs awarded to contractors who bid nearly 50 per cent lower than the estimated cost
* Rs 483-crore contract for resurfacing roads in the western suburbs awarded to contractors J Kumar Infraprojects and K R Constructions (joint venture), which bid lower than 20 per cent of the estimated cost
* After nearly a two-year gap, Rs 177.8-crore contract for improving roads in the eastern suburbs has been awarded to contractors R K Madhani and Prakash Engineers, who bid lower than 20 per cent of the estimated cost
* Two contracts of about Rs 250 crore for asphalt and cement-concrete roads in island city awarded to Relcon Infraprojects and RPS Infraprojects, who bid a little more than 15 per cent of the estimated cost
* Civic water supply department has awarded contractor Perfect Engineering Associates Pvt Ltd two contracts together worth Rs 25 crore for pipeline work in the western suburbs. This is despite the contractor bidding exactly 20.93 per cent lower than the estimated cost in both contracts.
* The strangest anomaly features in the three proposals for de-silting the 17.9-km-long Mithi River, which includes work on the disputed 6-km stretch under the MMRDA. While the BMC has estimated that the de-silting work will cost about Rs 6.3 crore, the lowest bidders for these contracts have bid at least 55 per cent of the estimated cost. In fact, R E Infra Pvt. Ltd, the lowest bidder in one of the three contracts, has been awarded the tender despite quoting 175.5 per cent higher than the estimated cost.