Corporators have objected to BMC’s decision to spend Rs 40 lakh on the repair and renovation of the municipal commissioner’s bungalow at Malabar Hill in Mumbai, stating that the money could be better used to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, however, said that the repairs are required, as the bungalow is in a dilapidated condition. “The entire roof of the bungalow is covered with plastic sheets, held by bamboos… water leaks inside the rooms. Anyone is free to visit the bungalow and decide if repairs are necessary or not,” he added.
On August 11, the BMC had floated a tender for “internal repairs and furniture work of heritage bungalow of municipal commissioner”, located on M L Dahanukar Marg in Malabar Hill.
Estimated to cost Rs 40 lakh, the project will take six months to complete, the tender document stated.
It added that the work included the renovation of the toilet block, painting as well as work on furniture, internal plumbing and false ceiling. Other works listed included purchase of hand-woven cotton blend Kashmiri or Jaipuri carpet, high-head boards with tucks and cushioned with finishing of old Burma teakwood and eight decorative chandeliers as well as providing and fixing bubble massage bath and Italian marble cladding.
In a letter to Chahal and Mayor Kishori Pednekar, BJP corporator Vinod Mishra has demanded the cancelation of the tender citing the pandemic and the civic body failing to pay the salaries of many of its employees hired on contract for Covid-19 duty.
“BMC’s revenue is falling and it has failed to pay many of its staffers. In such a situation, topmost priority should be health infrastructure, mitigating waterlogging woes and paying the salaries of the healthcare staffers. Spending Rs 40 lakh on the repair of a bungalow is a waste of money,” said Mishra.
He added, “Taking note of the current pandemic situation, it would be appropriate to cancel this tender and carry out only extremely urgent works.”
Officials said that in the last eight years, BMC has spent over Rs 1 crore on the repair and maintenance of the bungalow. The civic body sets aside Rs 50 lakh for the upkeep of the heritage bungalow in its annual budget every year.
Opposition leader in the BMC, Ravi Raja, alleged that about three years ago, the civic body had spent Rs 50 lakh on repairing of the roof of the bungalow.
“Due to Covid-19, BMC has slashed the budget of its development projects. But the municipal commissioner is spending Rs 40 lakh on repairing his bungalow. Three years ago, the civic body had repaired the roof of the bungalow and if there is a problem, then action should be taken against the contractor,” he added.
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