Cutting across party lines, corporators in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have demanded the removal of consultants from all departments of the civic body.
Pointing to the CSMT bridge collapse where consultants had submitted incorrect assessment and recent revisions in the numbers of dilapidated bridges, corporators have asked the civic administration to set up a panel of engineers for these tasks instead of hiring consultants.
On Friday, corporators at the Standing Committee meeting slammed the administration over the recent mismanagement in which a structural audit report submitted by consultants in August 2018 had suggested that 14 bridges need to be demolished and reconstructed, while a re-audit after the collapse of the CSMT bridge (which had been certified as safe by the consultant) revealed that 29 bridges were near collapse and needed to be demolished. The sudden closure of so many bridges has led to serious inconvenience, with people locked in traffic for hours.
Congress corporator Asif Zakaria said, “The BMC hires consultants and pays them huge amounts as fees every year. This tradition has been going on for years. The BMC should end this as consultants have failed to put facts in their reports. In audit reports of bridges, consultants have changed the numbers twice. The city is facing a nightmare as many bridges are shut due to dilapidated condition. Bridges are closed but it is never told to citizens when they will be reopened. Consultants give different reports every time. The BMC should take the help of IITs across the country.”
According to the BMC, out of the 29 bridges declared dilapidated, 20 are shut or have been demolished until June 4.
The BJP has demanded the setting up of a panel of engineers for consultancy work. “These private consultants and BMC officers are putting the blame on each other. All consultants should be removed from the civic body and a panel of civic engineers formed to look after such tasks,” said BJP corporator Abhijit Samant.
Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh alleged there was a nexus of engineers and consultants in the BMC.