As errant contractors seek 15,000-20,000 pages of documents to build their defence, it has created a stumbling block in the way of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation from acting against those involved in the Rs 150-crore de-silting scam.
In January, the BMC had issued show-cause notices to 22 contractors after a high-level probe found them guilty of submitting fake records to allegedly inflate the cost of drain-cleaning work.
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Instead of replying, however, the contractors have demanded a copy of all the documents, including Vehicular Tracking System (VTS) records and receipts that the BMC had asked them to hand over. The contractors claim that access to these papers are necessary for them to mount their defence.
“There are 15,000-20,000 pages for each contractors which amounts to a total of three-four lakh pages which have to be scanned. We cannot outsource this work since the documents are confidential and had been confiscated from the contractors. We will only be able to send the documents by next month,” a senior official from solid waste department (SWD) said.
The SWD officials have been scanning the documents for the last 20 days and are expecting to complete the process by another 10 days.
Officials claimed that the entire exercise is a ruse by the contractors to buy time and delay the decision to blacklist them.
“Probably after taking legal opinion, the contractors came up with this idea of asking for copies of all the documents knowing that the documents would run into thousands of pages to buy themselves some time,” said a senior civic official.
He added that even though the contractors are yet to submit their response, they have been debarred from quoting in new tenders till the inquiry is in process.
The official also stated that regardless of the contractors’ reply to the notice, all the 22 contractors will be blacklisted in the next couple of months.