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Congress, BJP attack BMC over bad roads

Citizens’ ire over potholed roads -- especially in eastern suburbs -- resulted in chaos in the state council on Tuesday, forcing the government to take a defensive stand.


Playing favourites? Congress MLA Charansingh Sapra accused the civic body of protecting the interests of contractors. File pic

Leaders from Congress and BJP were particularly miffed over contractors who are responsible for road construction and maintenance work and breathed fire at the BMC’s role in their selection. The presiding officer of the house asked whether the state would want to blacklist the firms that were awarded the contracts earlier.

The issue came up after a calling attention motion moved by Congress’ nominated member Charansingh Sapra, BJP member Ashish Shelar, NCP member Vinayak Mete and Congress’ nominated member Alka Desai attacked the BMC for the shoddy job on roads in the city.

Sapra said that the BMC was busy protecting interests of the contractors. For the year 2012-13 the process of appointing contractors for the road construction and maintenance work in eastern suburbs turned chaotic as the civic body appointed a firm, Supreme-Mahavir, which was earlier blacklisted for shoddy work while laying paver blocks. Sapra added that such decisions were affecting the quality of roads and causing discomfort to people. Some of the pothole-ridden roads have turned killer spots, alleged the members, demanding a re-tendering of road projects.

BJP’s Ashish Shelar said the firm concerned submitted a fake certificate for the road construction and maintenance work in Navi Mumbai. He also alleged that there was some collusion in awarding the job, and asked for a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe on Aseem Gupta, former additional commissioner of BMC.

Leaders also questioned the appointment of Swiss firm, SGS that is responsible for quality control. The firm was appointed last year without a formal bidding process.

However, minister of state for Urban Development Uday Samant tried his best to defend the civic body but members across party lines, targeted the civic body for handling the road works without inviting bids, which may have compromised quality.

Samant assured that any kind of mishandling would be probed. He also promised that he would direct the civic commissioner over the appointment of the quality control firm, SGS. Sapra also demanded that the default liability period (DLP) for civic projects should be increased to five years from three years for tar roads, and to 10 years from five years for concrete roads.

Deputy speaker Vasant Davkhare said the issue of bad roads was of a serious nature as despite spending crores of rupees, interest of the citizens were often compromised.

He also questioned the state government about blacklisting two firms -- J Kumar-Vitarag and Supreme-Mahavir, holding them responsible for the mess that Mumbai’s roads have turned into. 

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