mid-day Impact: Won't award any projects to Unity Infra, says BMC chief

After mid-day’s extensive report on the firm’s dismal performance, Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte said it would be blacklisted 

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will not award any new work in the future to contractor consortium M/s Unity/M&P/WPK, one of the biggest civic contractors in the country. 

Reacting to mid-day’s report (‘Contractor’s shoddy job on pumping stations is putting Mumbai at risk’) published on November 11, Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte said the BMC will ensure that no new work is awarded to Unity Infrastructure, and that the process of blacklisting the firm will soon be initiated.

mid-day’s investigative report on November 11 

“We have been chasing (Unity) for many months now, but they kept pushing ahead the deadline, with promises to improve work. However, since there is little that we can do against them for this project, we will ensure that future civic works don’t go to them,” Kunte told mid-day.

Officials said this is not the first case in which the company has messed up a municipal project. A senior official said trouble started in 2009 when the company was awarded micro-tunnelling projects worth R80 crore. About 80% of these works were eventually called off, leading to losses to the firm, as well as waste of expensive machinery. “Several tunnelling machines in the phase were kept idle for five months at a stretch because the company could not execute the works. We had to cancel work orders, or get them completed from another contractor,” said an official.

This paper’s investigations had revealed the poor planning, design and construction of the two crucial pumping stations at Lovegrove and Cleveland Bunder, commissioned in 2011. The project’s execution has countless anomalies. At times, the contractor used sub-standard material, often sourced from unlisted suppliers, and violated many tender conditions, not only causing the civic exchequer losses, but also putting lives at risk.

Senior officials said that they are also exploring options of forming guidelines to restrict companies that are undergoing corporate debt restructuring (CDR) or financial troubles from participating in the tendering process. “But the problem is five of the top contractors we have in the corporation are facing some or the other kind of financial mess,” said an official. Unity, in its defence, has claimed serious financial constraints and CDR. Despite this, it argues, the BMC has held dues owed to the firm amounting to R52.63 crore while further levying a compensation to the tune of R46 crore for delays.

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