The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) crackdown on contractors involved in the Rs 352-crore road repair scam has hit the annual pothole-filling work during the monsoon. The BMC has been unable to find a contractor to undertake the job this year. The roads department of the BMC invited tenders three times for the work, but received very poor response.
This contract is annually awarded specifically to attend to citizens’ complaints on potholes expeditiously. In the third round, one contractor showed interest in taking up the job for the island city, while none responded for the eastern and western suburbs.
“The contractor’s bid for the island city was over 45 percent above the estimates. So, we could not appoint him,” said a senior official. Officials admitted that the contractor lobby is playing hardball by staying away from bidding for the critical pothole-filling contracts.
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With no response from the contractors, the civic body started has had to look for alternatives. “We were forced to ask the pre-monsoon-work contractors to fill potholes during the monsoon too. It was the only option we had. While the contractors have agreed to do so, we are not sure how sincerely they will carry out the job during the rains,” said the
Following an inquiry report on 34 road works across the city, the BMC registered First Information Reports (FIR) against six contractors and two third-party auditors for cheating and not laying the base layer of the road. The civic body has begun the process of blacklisting all the six contractors.
Recently, it also stopped payments to the tainted contractors pending the completion of the probe. Currently, the BMC is conducting the second phase of the inquiry, with trial pits dug at 226 road work sites. Mumbaiites are now afraid of a bumpy ride during the monsoon.
“With only 60 per cent road works complete, we are bound to suffer this monsoon. Also, the road scam has revealed that irregularities in the repair works range from 38 per cent to 100 per cent,”said Nikhil Desai, an activist from Matunga.
“It shows the poor quality of work, which is likely to result in more potholes. And with no contractor to repair them, citizens are in for a tough time,” Desai added.