WITH less than a year left for the Mumbai civic polls, the Congress and NCP legislators have now shifted their focus from the state government to targetting the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) – also led by a Shiv Sena-BJP coalition – demanding the local body’s dissolution alleging corruption in contracts.
Opposition members in the legislative council on Wednesday demanded an inquiry by a Special Investigation Team, (SIT) and an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) into alleged graft in contracts of desilting, roads and junction improvements, signals, debris disposal, purchase of anaesthesia machines among others.
“If the government is admitting that there was corruption then how can the BMC itself conduct the inquiry? There should be an independent inquiry either under Additional Chief Secretary (Home) or an SIT probe comprising officials from the Economic Offences Wing and Anti-Corruption Bureau. The government should start proceedings to dissolve BMC, and there should be a special audit by the CAG,” NCP legislator Sunil Tatkare said.
Congress’s Sharad Ranpise who had raised the issue of alleged corruption in several BMC contracts during the Question Hour said, “The mayor herself had once said percentages are shared for giving particular contracts. A lot of corruption has come to light in many contracts of the BMC and there should be a special inquiry.”
The Upper House had to be adjourned for five minutes amid chaos as opposition legislators shouted demands of an SIT or a CAG probe.
“It is true that there were some irregularities in desilting contracts. The BMC has conducted an inquiry and an FIR has been filed against 14 officials and employees. The Economic Offences Wing has also been asked to probe. Even in case of corruption in road repair contracts, action will be taken,” Minister of State for Urban Development Ranjit Patil said.
In the government’s written reply too, the urban development department has stated that the BMC has conducted an interim and final inquiry. The reply stated that the BMC has suspended 13 of the 14 officials found guilty with one of them having retired, and initiated departmental inquiries in all 14 cases.
The civic body has also registered cases against 32 contractors and the EOW has issued showcause notices to all contractors. The reply stated that a BMC-appointed committee is looking into irregularities in roads and junction improvements, signals and debris disposal contracts.
In case of procurement of faulty anaesthesia machines, the civic body has blacklisted the supplier, cancelled the firm’s vendor registration and registered an FIR against the company, the government said in the reply.
Legislative Council Chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar stayed the question, asking the state urban development department, which the chief minister heads, to come up with a detailed reply with regards to the opposition’s demand for an independent inquiry.