Navi Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Tukaram Mundhe on Tuesday issued a show cause notice to two senior officials of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s engineering department after irregularities emerged in the escalation cost of constructing two civic schools. The two officials — Additional City Engineer Surendra Patil and Executive Engineer Madan Waghchore — will have to respond to the notices within a week.
The matter came to light following a special audit last month on cost escalations in the building of the two schools.
“The two officials — Patil and Waghchore — have been issued notices to explain irregularities that were found in the construction of a municipal school in Ghansoli. As per the contract, the cost approved for constructing this school was Rs 9 crore. However, following the audit, we found that the cost had escalated to Rs 13.15 crore without approval from the commissioner or other concerned authorities,” said Ankush Chavan, Additional commissioner (city), NMMC.
Officials are also investigating irregularities in the construction of another municipal school. The cost approved
for constructing the Khoparkhairne Municipal School was Rs 2 crore, but it has now escalated to Rs 32 crore.
The NMMC currently runs around 70 schools in the city. No other school under the ‘School Vision’ scheme has incurred such a huge expense for construction. The original cost of the three-phase project ‘School Vision’ was Rs 15.67 crore, but it eventually rose to Rs 25 crore over the years.
An NMMC official said, “The findings of the audit could mean a lot of trouble for some officials as it is going to open a Pandora’s box. These findings might also unearth links of the irregularities to some local political leaders.”
It has also come to light that the tenders allotted to the three phases of construction were above the estimate by 20 per cent to 55 per cent. The cost escalated in all the three phases are due to the delays, officials claimed.
“Despite no demand either by the civic body’s education committee or the school management, it was decided that the new school will be a ground-plus-five-storey structure,” added the official.
With the total initial cost of the project coming to Rs 25 crore, an additional Rs 5 crore was later approved for electrification work and more required for furniture.
Mundhe had ordered for a special audit to be conducted after the issue of escalated costs of projects was raised in the standing committee and the general body of NMMC over the years. He had asked for a detailed investigation of the tender process too.
In July, a Shiv Sena delegation led by former municipal commissioner Vijay Nahata met Mundhe and raised the same issue. Nahata said, “We took up the issue of the cost of construction of the school escalated from Rs 2.67 crore to over Rs 32 crore in sector 11 of Bonkode, Koparkhairane area. We have never heard of any school costing this much. There are many more issues that will be unearthed after a detailed investigation in the matter.”