Adding to the uproar over the death of a penguin at the Byculla zoo, the leader of opposition in the BMC and Congress corporator Pravin Chheda Wednesday filed a petition with the Maharashtra Lokayukta against civic officials and Highway Construction Company, the contractor responsible for building the penguin enclosure at the zoo.
In his petition, Chheda has raised allegations of manipulation of the tender conditions and has demanded an FIR against the contractor.
Chheda blamed zoo director Sanjay Tripathi for flouting of the tender conditions of the Rs 50-crore project.
“Even though the issue has been raised in the general body meeting and the standing committee and several complaints have been submitted, the civic administration has not ordered any probe into the matter,” he said.
Apart from the FIR, Chheda has sought a detailed report into the process of procuring the penguins as well as the construction of the enclosure.
He has demanded that the municipal commissioner set up an independent inquiry into the project and fix responsibility on civic officials for the manipulated tender conditions.
Chheda’s move comes a day after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation confiscated the contractor’s deposit money amounting to Rs 1.4 crore.
Even though the tender mandates the contractor to have a joint venture with a technical partner, HCC had failed to complete the process of its association with a US-based company, SIVAT. The matter came to the BMC’s notice after officials from SIVAT, which specialises in aquaculture systems, informed them about pending financial issues with HCC.
The zoo project for which the HCC was appointed as contractor includes maintenance of the enclosure as well as
providing a life support system for the penguins for a period of five years.
“HCC is a civil contractor and it has no experience in construction of penguin enclosures. It is due to the negligence and connivance of BMC officials, especially the zoo director, that the contractor was given a leeway to get away with shoddy work that led to the death of one penguin,” Chheda said.