The city’s development authority is considering giving the contract of constructing the Worli-Sewri elevated road to Simplex Infrastructures Ltd as it has quoted the lowest bid among the five tenders that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had received for the project.
Ashwini Bhide, additional metropolitan commissioner at the MMRDA, said, “The bid by Simplex Infrastructures is nearly 16 to 17 per cent below the estimated cost of the project. We have asked them for a justification on their cost estimate. We will evaluate the justification and then put it before the executive committee for approval.” The MMRDA had expected the elevated road, which will take around four years to be constructed, to cost Rs 490 crore.
Four other companies Larsen & Toubro, Hindustan Construction Company, Gammon India and National Construction Company — had put in their tenders for the 4.5-km elevated road project. While Larsen & Toubro has also quoted a bid below the estimated cost and is the second-lowest bidder, the other bids were above the estimated project cost, Bhide said.
Simplex Infrastructures has previously been in charge of infrastructure works where there have been at least six construction-related mishaps, some of which have led to injuries and deaths. These projects are the elevated Eastern Freeway, Lalbaug flyover and the civil work of the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro that was sub-contracted to Simplex.
“There have been accidents on construction sites under many contractors, even those known for their efficiency. Accidents cannot be a parameter based on which we can decide to disqualify a company from another project. But we will ensure that the shortcomings that we have experienced with the company that may have led to such incidents are addressed at the beginning,” Bhide said.
The most recent construction-related accident where Simplex was the contractor was in July 2012 on the then under-construction Eastern Freeway, after which the MMRDA was contemplating debarring the firm from bidding for future projects. However, eventually, after an inquiry report attributed the mishap to a technical glitch, the development authority levied a penalty of Rs 1 crore on the contractor citing four incidents and saying that Simplex had not fulfilled contractual obligations with regard to safety.
A spokesperson of Simplex Infrastructures said, “Bids for the Worli-Sewri elevated corridor were invited on the design-build procurement route. We have suggested a world-class design for the project that will set a new benchmark in the infrastructure development space, while at the same time being less expensive to build.”