THE BMC has spent Rs 65.46 lakh within 20 days in January on the mayor’s new residence in Byculla zoo. Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar had moved in his new official bungalow in the last week of January after his bungalow in Shivaji Park was vacated for the proposed Bal Thackeray memorial. The new bungalow, spread across 6,000 sq m and a heritage property, has gone through two rounds of repair and renovation in the last two years.
Officials said around Rs 22 lakh was spent on renovation, repainting and repair of the bungalow. While Rs 10 lakh was spent on electrical fitments inside the bungalow, Rs 33.46 lakh was spent on beautification and development of the garden.
In 2017, the BMC had spent about Rs 80 lakh for major structural repairs before the additional municipal commissioner (City) A L Jarhad moved in the same bungalow. Jarhad had vacated the bungalow in December 2018.
A BMC official said, “The bungalow had gone through major repairs in 2017. Since the mayor was moving in, another round of renovation was undertaken in January for 20 days. Several changes were done as per the mayor’s suggestions. The bungalow has floor carpet area of 2,370 sq ft and a lawn in the premises. Some extra space for parking of vehicles was also created. So, in last two years, BMC has spent more than Rs 1.45 crore on the bungalow’s renovation and repair.”
The matter came into light when a proposal informing about the expenditure of Rs 33.46 lakh on garden-related works for the bungalow was passed in the BMC Standing Committee meeting last Friday just before the model code of conduct for Lok Sabha elections came into effect. More than 65 proposals were passed in a single meeting within 25 minutes.
According to the proposal, the BMC had awarded a contract without inviting tenders for garden works. The contract was awarded under Section 72 (3) of Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, as per which, the civic administration can appoint a contractor without inviting tenders while terming the work as “urgent” or “important”.
Two other works were also initiated without inviting tenders, as the mayor was supposed to moved in to the Byculla zoo bungalow before Balasaheb Thackeray’s birth anniversary.
An official said that the mayor will stay in the new bungalow temporarily as the BMC is planning to construct new bungalow in Shivaji Park, at the site of a municipal gymkhana right next to the old grade II-B heritage mayor bungalow. The Shivaji Park bungalow, spread over 11,500 sq m, was bigger than the Byculla zoo bungalow.
Despite repeated attempts, Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar was not available for comment.