The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) may have blacklisted three of the 16 contractors implicated in the Rs 2,000-crore roads scam, but the civic body has so far taken action against only two chief engineers of the roads and vigilance department. Though two rounds of inquiry had found a large number of officials to be complicit in the roads scam, apart from transferring two deputy chief engineers, no inquiry has yet been initiated against other engineers.
Officials who conducted the inquiry said the reports and subsequent action mostly focused on the contractors and less on the civic officials. “Both the reports had mentioned that the involvement of roads department engineers and their negligence contributed to the scam. Sub-engineers, assistant and deputy engineers have all been found to be involved in some way or the other and will have to be held responsible. But, there has been no departmental inquiry so far against the engineers and it seems to be a forgotten business now,” said an official.
After the first inquiry report, the civic administration had suspended Ashok Pawar, chief engineer of the roads department, and Uday Murudkar, chief engineer of the vigilance department. They were subsequently arrested. At the time, Sanjay Darade, the current chief engineer of the roads department, was the deputy chief engineer of the city zone, Archana Achrekar managed the eastern suburbs and Tarang Namdev Kumar led the western suburbs.
Last year, after the first inquiry report was submitted, while Darade was promoted, Achrekar was sent to the city engineer department as the deputy chief engineer of building constructions and Kumar was transferred to the sewerage projects department.
“Despite allegedly having a significant involvement, they were not subjected to any kind of inquiry. There is a chance that the contractors’ lobby is responsible for this, since they don’t want the engineers to give any statements which could incriminate them in the case,” the official added.
Sources within the civic body said even though the second report, which included the discrepancies in around 200 roads, had been submitted in September last year, it was not brought to the public forum until after the civic elections were held in February this year.
Even though the civic administration had taken up a departmental inquiry against 85 civic officials implicated in the Rs 150 crore de-silting scam and has even started the process of drafting chargesheets against them, no such orders have been given out in the case of the roads scam.
Hinting at how deep the contractors’ lobby runs, the official added that their findings during the inquiry has led them to believe that around five engineers were responsible for colluding with the contractors responsible for the shoddy quality of roads in the city. “There are four or five engineers who have been working in the roads department for more than a decade. Even if they are transferred, they find their way back into the roads department with the help of the contractors’ lobby. We believe these engineers had helped the contractors who have gotten away with shoddy work year after year in the past,” the official said.
Other senior civic officials, however, are confident the inquiry will take place. “It is true that two deputy engineers were transferred because of their involvement in the roads scam. However, the departmental inquiry will have to be conducted and it will begin after the pre-monsoon works are over,” said a senior civic official.