The NCP-ruled Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has landed itself on a sticky wicket as the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has stepped in to order a probe into the construction of a foot overbridge in Bhosari whose exorbitant cost has become the talk of the town.
The bridge in question is coming up in Sheetalbaug area of Bhosari on Pune-Nashik highway. When it was first planned in 2011, the bridge was estimated to cost Rs 70 lakh. However, the PCMC has now estimated that it will cost Rs 7 crore, of which Rs 4.5 crore has already been paid to the contractor.
When contacted, Municipal Commissioner Dinesh Waghmare said, “We have not yet received any information regarding the probe from the Chief Minister’s office…I have heard about the complaint to CM’s office, we are awaiting further intimation.”
BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap, who complained to the CM about the alleged squandering of public funds, said the CM had ordered a probe into matter. “After I brought to the notice of the CM the blatant misuse of public money by the NCP-ruled PCMC, he has decided to probe the matter,” Jagtap said.
Jagtap said what was shocking was the foot overbridge being constructed by PCMC would cost Rs 7 crore whereas the one constructed by the Pune division of the Central Railways had cost Rs 1.85 crore. “The Bhosari bridge is 61 metres long while the Khadki bridge is of 90 metres long. This shows that though PCMC bridge, despite being smaller, is being constructed at an astronomical cost,” he said.
A Central Railway spokesperson confirmed that the Khadki foot overbridge was recently set up at a cost of Rs 1.85 crore.
BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar said, “We suspect a syndicate works in PCMC. All this is happening due to the collusion of PCMC officials and NCP leaders. There is a need for a deeper probe to find out how the NCP was misusing public funds,” he said.
When contacted, PCMC city engineer Ambadas Chavan said the information about the bridge was available with junior engineer Jeevan Gaikwad. “Compared to the railway bridge at Khadki, our Bhosari bridge has a better design structure and the quantity of steel used is much more. Besides, over the last five years, the cost of the material has gone up. Also, twice tenders were cancelled. The delay has resulted in the cost going up,” he said.
However, Kamtekar said the railway bridge was better designed, cheaper and much longer. “It looks in better shape than Bhosari. Besides, the railways have an expertise in this field,” he said.
The bridge is coming up in Bhosari Assembly constituency represented by MLA Mahesh Landge, who is likely to join the BJP. Landge was the standing committee chairman when the project was first approved. After that he has been pursuing the project. “Other than insisting that the project be set up in Bhosari in quick time, I have no hand in its spiralling cost,” was the MLA’s response.