Updated: July 7, 2021 9:05:07 am
Two firms run by wives of two attenders working for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have bagged several contracts for procurement of Covid-19 materials such as pulse oximeters, along with other civic works, according to official documents accessed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by an activist.
The companies, RR Enterprises and Shree Enterprises, were given several contracts totaling Rs 65.36 lakh and about Rs 1.11 crore respectively, between 2019 and 2021 in D ward comprising Grant Road and Malabar Hill, the documents revealed.
According to the documents, RR Enterprises is owned by Riya Ratnesh Bhosale, wife of Ratnesh Bhosale, currently posted at H-east ward (Santacruz east) in the maintenance department as an attender. The other company is owned by Aparna A Narale, wife of Arjun Narale, also an attender in the Solid Waste Management (SWM) department at D ward.
While the BMC employees in question said they had nothing to do with the businesses being run by their spouses, the Opposition has demanded an inquiry into the matter.
Most of the contracts were awarded to the companies under the “spot quotation” system, in which ward officers and assistant engineer of maintenance department are vested with powers to invite tenders for miscellaneous works being executed under their jurisdiction.
As per section 86 (1) of Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, “any person (municipal officer and servant) who has, directly or indirectly, by himself or his partner any share or interest in any contract with, by or on behalf of the corporation shall be disqualified from being a municipal officer or servant”.
In the case of RR Enterprises, the mobile number printed on the service purchase order copies was found to be in use by Ratnesh Bhosale, while the office address was the same as his home address in BIT Chawl, Mumbai Central. In case of Shree Enterprises, the office address mentioned just the street name and the area, Dharavi.
The documents showed that both companies got contracts for hiring of four-wheelers for Covid-19 duty, supply of materials such as pulse oximeters and Arsenic Album tablets to Covid Care Centres 1 and 2, supply of water purifier, curtains and other housekeeping work to D ward.
Shree Enterprises got the contracts even as Narale was posted there since the last two years, the documents revealed.
“These companies are indirectly handled by municipal employees…The BMC should initiate an inquiry in this matter and they will find out the other officers involved,” RTI activist Santosh Daundkar said. “This is just one example and I suspect these things could have happened in other wards too during the pandemic,” he added.
Bhosale told The Indian Express: “I am not involved with my wife’s firm. She is the owner of the company. Also, now I am posted in H-east ward (and not D ward).” On his mobile number on the purchase order, he said, “The number could have been registered accidently by my wife. I have two mobile numbers.”
Narale, too, said he had nothing to do with his wife’s company. “She does her own business and has bagged other contracts outside BMC. I was transferred to D ward around two and half years back. And before that I was posted in B ward. The work was awarded to the company under the spot quotation issued by D ward,” said Narale.
Bhosale said he had been transferred from D ward three years back to H-east ward.
Opposition leader Ravi Raja said a vigilance inquiry should be conducted in this matter. “It is a very serious matter. This is a matter of conflict of interest,” said Raja.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner, (Zone 1), Harshad Kale, too, said the matter appeared to be a case of conflict of interest. “I have not received any complaint in this regard. This is the first time I am hearing such cases. If a written complaint is filed with the assistant municipal commissioner of D ward then we can have an inquiry through the vigilance department,” he said.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner, D ward, Prashant Gaikwad was not available for comment.
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