Ruling and opposition parties unite in alleging that BEST committee didn’t follow rule while extending contract in Goregaon to old advertiser
An ugly hoarding may be a sore sight for your eyes, but it still costs a hefty sum. The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) recently came under attack for trying to give away a 40-feet-by-40-feet hoarding spot near Goregaon Sports Club allegedly at a lesser rate to an existing contractor; even though the contract period had ended.
The plot near Goregaon Sports Complex that got BEST in hot water, as parties alleged it was being given away cheaper. Pic/Nimesh Dave
This earned BEST the wrath of not just opposition political parties within the BEST committee, but also from the ruling BJP party leaders. The hoarding space also apparently violates BMC policy guidelines.
The issue was noticed when BJP MP Kirit Somaiya wrote a letter to the chairman of BEST Committee, Mohan Mithbaokar, who is a BJP member as well. Sources said that Somaiya wanted transparency while awarding BEST hoardings and advertisements. The letter states that BEST needs to implement a transparent bidding process, disallow extension of old contracts. In his letter, sent in late April, Somaiya added that valuation should be done in a transparent manner.
“For a long time, there has been debate over the manipulation of BEST awarding contracts for hoardings and advertisement rights on open places, bus depots and buses,” stated Somaiya’s letter.
Officials claim that the problem cropped up after one of their hoardings near Goregaon Sports Club was in the process of being extended to the incumbent advertiser without following the tender process. “The contractor was being given rights of advertisement at a cost of around Rs 84 lakh for a period of 10 years till 2024. Their contract had ended in 2014, yet the administration did nothing to either renew it, or get another contractor in their place,” said Ravi Raja, member, BEST Committee.
The officials also claimed that this hoarding space falls under the compulsory open space and therefore, violates the revised policy guidelines of the BMC. “If proper valuation of the land price and advertising rates were done and tenders called, it could easily touch over Rs 2 crore in revenue,” said a BEST official.
Last week, BEST had however, cancelled this proposal for extending the contract after the allegations were made.