Now just cleaning roads in Navi Mumbai is set to cost no less than Rs 2,800 per km per day, thanks to the generosity of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) officials while awarding the contract for the work to two private companies.
With at least 60 km to be cleaned on three roads every day, the two companies are together set to earn a minimum of Rs 1.68 lakh daily just for operating the sweeping machines provided by the NMMC.
The eight sweeping machines to be used for the purpose were bought by the engineering department of the NMMC for around Rs 8 crore a few months ago from the very companies that have been awarded the seven-year contract for cleaning the roads at the rate of Rs 2,800 per km.
Going by this calculation, the corporation will be paying the two companies close to Rs 7 crore annually, which comes to about Rs 50 crore in seven years.
If done manually, the same work would cost the NMMC an estimated Rs 1 crore per year.
NMMC insiders say the contract awarded to the two companies is an excellent example of how taxpayer money is wasted by paying contractors exorbitant rates for any work.
The road-cleaning contract was awarded under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
The two contractors, Anthony and BVG, will be carrying out cleaning on the Thane-Belapur road, the Palm Beach road and the main road in Vashi for the next seven years. All that the contractors have to do is hire a driver and a cleaner for each of the eight sweeping machines.
“In the first place, the sweeping machines were purchased at exorbitant rates, and now Rs 2,800 will be given for cleaning every kilometre of road,” a senior NMMC official said, requesting anonymity. “As the corporation is going to pay Rs 700 per lane per km, and as four lanes of a road will be cleaned every day by the contractors, we will have to pay Rs 2,800 per km of road daily. At this rate the NMMC will be paying the companies about Rs 7 crore annually, which is around Rs 50 crore in seven years. In addition, these expensive machines are not going to take care of the cleaning of all roads in the city, but just a few.”
The official also questioned the need to undertake daily cleaning on the Palm Beach road and the Thane-Belapur road, saying these roads were largely free of dust.
“What is surprising is that the contract has been awarded despite the fact that one can hardly find dust on Thane-Belapur road and Palm Beach road,” he said. “Also, the NMMC will not have to spend more than Rs 1 crore if these roads are cleaned manually. So it is an unnecessary exercise that is burning a hole in the corporation’s pocket.”
Navi Mumbai Deputy Municipal Commissioner (solid waste management) Aziz Shaikh distanced himself from the decision on the payment rate for the road-cleaning work.
“I do not know much about the purchase and the cost of these machines since the engineering department handled the procurement. We have given the contract to two companies, who will look after the cleaning of two major highways in the city that come under the corporation’s jurisdiction. The contract will last for the next seven years and, I think, we will pay these companies Rs 700 for every kilometre of road cleaned since there is no provision in the contract for paying a fixed amount,” Shaikh said.
NMMC sources and representatives of the two contractors said Shaikh may not know the correct payment rate and said the contract provided for a payment of Rs 700 per lane per km instead of Rs 700 per km of road. At Rs 700 per lane per km, every kilometre of road cleaned would cost the NMMC Rs 2,800 as four lanes would be cleaned on every road.
“We are going to clean only two of the three lanes on each side of the road since the middle lane normally remains clean, and by cleaning these four lanes at the rate of Rs 700 per lane per km the charges for every kilometre of road will be Rs 2,800,” an official of one of the contractors said, requesting anonymity.
NMMC sources said the civic body could have just hired its own drivers and cleaners to operate the sweeping machines it already owns and saved crores of rupees.
“The contractors will just have to incur expenses on the payment of salary of eight drivers and eight cleaners to earn over Rs 7 crore every year,” an NMMC official said, requesting anonymity. “In the seven years of the contract, the companies will together reap an estimated Rs 50 crore, possibly even more.”
The other side
Navi Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Bhaskar Wankhede washed his hands of the issue, claiming the corporation did not have any role in fixing the rate for cleaning of the roads.
“The rates were decided after the approval of the technical committees of the central and state government under the JNNURM scheme. So the corporation did not have any role in the price-fixing process,” Wankhede said.
The amount the contractors will be paid per km per day
Rs 1.7 lakh
The approximate amount the firms will make daily
Rs 1 crore
The annual cost NMMC would have to bear if the work was done manually