The Mohali Municipal Corporation has terminated the contract of buying a controversial tree-pruning machine from a Delhi-based company. The MC gave 21 days’ time to the company to refund Rs 89.50 lakh which the civic body had paid to the company.
On January 10, 2017, the MC had signed an agreement with Delhi-based company Cosmic Healers Pvt Limited for purchase of tree-pruning machine. The MC paid Rs 89.50 lakh out of a total of Rs 1.80 crore. But the machine remained in controversies and never came on the road.
MC Commissioner Kamal Garg issued a letter to the company stating that the matter was investigated by the Chief Vigilance Officer and the company was also issued a show-cause notice on October 17, 2018, asking for reply within 21 days.
The company had replied on July 9, 2019. The Commissioner said that strict action was taken against the officials of the Municipal Corporation who had signed the contract. He said that the officials of the corporation had prepared an estimate of Rs 1.80 crore for this machine. Two companies submitted bids in which the bid of Pulse Solar System was rejected. While Cosmic Healer had submitted a bid for Rs 2.08 crore, it was awarded the contract for Rs 1.79 crore by the company after negotiation. Not only that, the corporation paid Rs 89.50 lakh to the company as advance.
The Commissioner said that a comparative list was sent to the Chief Engineer for vetting. In view of the violation of rules in the matter, the then minister for local government entrusted the investigation to the Chief Vigilance Officer who levelled serious allegations of collusion against the said company and the Municipal Corporation. The
Commissioner said that the quotation of a Bangalore-based company also came to light in this case. He questioned how this company found out about the purchase of tree-pruning machine when the corporation did not do any advertisement. The Commissioner wrote that it seems that the estimate was prepared in conspiracy of the above two companies along with the MC authorities and it caused a huge financial loss to the MC.
In addition, various other cases of breach have been highlighted by the Commissioner saying that the work was allotted to the said company without any technical sanction. Not only this, Rs 89.50 lakh was also given to the said company without sanction. He said the departmental inquiry had found that the machine had been procured at a price six-seven times more than that of a machine made in India while a similar machine was available in the UK at half the price. Giving the company 21 days’ time to repay Rs 89.50 lakh with 18 per cent interest, the Commissioner said legal action would be taken against the company if it did not repay the money in time.
Former Congress councillor Kuljeet Singh Bedi said that he was against the purchase and finally the MC had done a good job by cancelling the agreement. He added that action must be taken against the officials who were involved in the purchase.
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