PAYMENTS to six of the 13 contractors implicated in the roads scam have been put on hold by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), because the sum to be recovered from them is too high. With a rush to complete roads ahead of the monsoon, the civic body may face more hurdles as the contractors have discontinued work since last year citing lack of funds.
Senior civic officials said that many contractors implicated in the roads scam have raised complaints over the BMC’s decision to stop payments.
“They have refused to continue work since we have held back payments and their security deposits to recover the amount of money we had incurred as losses for their shoddy work. However, calculations have revealed that the amount to be recovered from six of them was much higher than the cost of projects they are currently working on and we will not be able to recover the entire sum,” said a senior civic official.
He added that they will seek legal recourse if the contractors refuse to complete the work in the ongoing projects before May 15 for asphalt roads and before May 30 for cement-concrete roads.
“We will ask the remaining seven contractors to volunteer and they will be paid for the job. If they refuse too, we will file a civil suit for damages against the contractor in the Bombay High Court,” the official said.
Last year, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had announced the decision to withhold payments of 16 contractors amounting to Rs 900 crore.
Earlier, the BMC had decided to make partial payments to the 13 contractors who had discontinued work on 281 roads across the city, citing lack of funds and simultaneously recover the misappropriated amount.
Of the 13 contractors, 11 are currently working on around 180 roads in the western suburbs, six are working on 34 roads in the eastern suburbs and nine are working on 67 roads in the city zone.
According to figures given by the roads department, work has been taken up under three categories — Phase I, Phase II and Project roads — all of which began from January. The BMC aims to complete work on all 438 roads under Phase I, 238 of the 938 roads under Phase II and 758 of the 1,969 roads under Project roads by May. Work has been completed on 110 roads under Phase I and around 45 roads under Project roads.
Apart from these, there are around 80 roads under defect liability period that need to be repaired before the monsoon.
Regardless of the status of work on the roads, all of them need to be in a motorable condition before the rains arrive.
Like last year, the India Metereological Department has predicted an early onset of pre-monsoon showers this year as well. K S Hosalikar, the deputy director-general of IMD, western region, said: “Pre-monsoon showers are expected to hit the city by the third or last week of May and all agencies should strive to complete all their work well in advance.”