E-tendering was brought in to curb the rampant corruption in the Civil Works Contract system used by the civic body earlier; following the e-tendering scam, the old system is making a comeback
Ironically, the biggest gainers from the Rs 100-crore e-tendering scam seem to have been corruption and its practitioners. The CWC (Civil Works Contract) system, which was scrapped by the BMC in favour of e-tendering to curb corruption and bring in much-needed transparency to the tendering process, is being used extensively again following the scam.
The inquiry initiated by the BMC’s Test, Audit and Vigilance Officer (TAVO) department found that senior officials had come to know about irregularities in e-tendering in the K/East (Andheri East), P/South (Goregaon), R/Central (Borivli) , R/South (Kandivli) and H/East (Santacruz) wards even before the scam came to light. After ward officers of the respective wards came to know about the irregularities, they cancelled the contracts and issued fresh ones under the CWC system.
“Two years after introducing e-tendering to kill corruption, we are back on the same track. Engineers and contractors have manipulated the system and, because of that, we have been forced to award contracts under the CWC system again, which was known for corruption and had been scrapped,” said a senior BMC official. “Under the CWC system, awarding contracts to favoured contractors is very easy because there is very little transparency, and very few checks and balances,” he added.
In 2012, BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte had introduced e-tendering for ward-level petty repair works (contracts of Rs 3 lakh to Rs 7 lakh) to curb corruption and bring in transparency. Before this was done, contracts for ward-level work (repairing of drainage lines foothpaths, potholes, sewer lines) were issued by the CWC system, which was scrapped because of rampant corruption.
However, after delays caused by the e-tendering system and demand from corporators, the BMC began awarding 50 per cent of the contracts through e-tendering and the rest through the CWC system last year.