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Dangerous precedent

With a yearly budget of over Rs 27,000 crore — which is more than that of states like Goa, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Sikkim — Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is the richest civic body in the country. Its wealth has always attracted the attention of politicians, contractors and bureaucrats, who have been milking it constantly.

However, in an unprecedented development, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi has place a bid for a 174-crore BMC contract for picking up and transporting garbage to dumping grounds. This has raised pertinent questions like what happens if Azmi gets the contract (he is the lowest bidder), and would it mean the floodgates opening up and all politicians joining in to bid for such contracts? Would our civic babus dare to serve a notice to him if Azmi’s firm does shoddy work? If action were taken the company, what would his party’s stance in the civic body be?

While former municipal commissioner DM Sukhthankar already feels that if this happens, in the near future quality of civic services may be hit if politicians enter into BMC’s realm as contractors. He said that while it is not illegal for a politician to get a contract, it would be ethically wrong.

We are not passing judgment on Azmi or his firm’s credentials. However, the matter of a politician’s firm bidding directly for a civic project could have repercussions not just for Mumbai but also the state. With politicians in our country enjoying an exalted status it is anybody’s guess where this could lead the state and the country to. 

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