IIT to clean up Navi Mumbai's dubious sweeping machine project
After what seemed like a concerted effort on part of some Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) officials to brush allegations of corruption and wrongdoing in the much-hyped sweeping machine project under the carpet, civic body chief Bhaskar Wankhede has finally sent the rate contract (for operation and maintenance) to Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay for analysis.
The municipal commissioner said if any irregularities come to the fore, the contract would be either modified or scrapped.
NMMC has been facing flak from all corners, including opposition parties — Congress and Shiv Sena — for alleged misappropriation of funds in awarding the contract to two private companies for mechanised sweeping of major roads in the city.
As MiD DAY had reported on October 3 (‘Cost of road sweepers Rs 8 crore, operating cost per year Rs 7 crore’) NMMC is going to incur expenses of around Rs 77 crore in the next seven years (including cost, operation and maintenance of machines) for mechanised sweeping of 60 kilometres of roads in the city every day.
“The contract value was finalised through a general body meeting in which opposition parties had also given their consent to the contract value. Nonetheless, we have sent the rate contract to the IIT for analysis a few days ago, and we expect the report to come by mid-November. If the findings reveal any discrepancies, we will modify the current rate contract and ask the contractors to abide by the changes. If they do not accede to our terms, we will scrap the agreement,” said Wankhede.
Meanwhile, opposition parties have termed the scrutiny by IIT eyewash and demanded termination of the project. Dashrath Bhagat, NMMC corporator and Navi Mumbai district Congress president claimed he would file a petition in the high court if the corporation does not scrap the venture.
“What the IIT is going to find in case there was misappropriation of funds, as the institution’s expertise lies in testing of strength and technical aspects of infrastructure projects. So we are not impressed with the commissioner’s move and demand annulment of the endeavour so taxpayers’ money can be saved,” said Bhagat.
Also, as part of the protest against the alleged corruption in the sweeping machine project, the local Congress unit has decided to hold a morcha in front of the NMMC headquarters on Friday.