When it comes to graft, nobody is untouchable. Not even kids. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is going to install rubber mats for children’s safety in three gardens that are getting a facelift in the city, but it is procuring the mats at nearly four times the market price. What’s more, it is going to spend Rs 2 crore just to buy the mats.

The same rubber mats had been installed at Five Gardens last year, whose revamp has been dubbed a ‘flop show’ by an activist
The same rubber mats had been installed at Five Gardens last year, whose revamp has been dubbed a ‘flop show’ by an activist

Number crunching
Last month, the BMC’s Standing Committee passed the proposal for development and improvement of gardens in Goregaon, Gorai and Andheri. Documents accessed by mid-day show that the BMC-appointed contractor for the project has inked a deal with a supplier of specialised rubber mat at a price of more than Rs 16,000 per square metre.

Rubber flooring and playground equipment had been installed at Five Gardens in Matunga last year. An activist said some of the equipment broke down within a week
Rubber flooring and playground equipment had been installed at Five Gardens in Matunga last year. An activist said some of the equipment broke down within a week

When mid-day called up the same supplier for a quotation on the mats, the price that we got, after negotiations, was Rs 4,000 per sq m. The initial price quoted was R4,800, with the understanding that it would be brought down to Rs 4,000 for a bulk purchase.

The BMC is going to spend R6.69 crore on these three gardens, out of which nearly Rs 2 crore will be spent on buying the mats. BMC has appointed Marcia Infratech as the contractor for the development of the gardens in Goregaon, Gorai and Andheri, 850, 150 and 250 sq m of which are to be covered with rubber mats respectively (see box).

The contractor is going to purchase these mats from Arihant Industrial Corporation Ltd, the same company which had supplied them for the revamp of Five Gardens in Matunga last year.

Fruits of monopoly
Sources from the BMC’s garden cell said that since Arihant Industrial Corporation Ltd is the only company in Mumbai that provides specialised rubber mats, they are enjoying a monopoly. “The garden cell was formed to do high-quality work, to do civil work and avoid financial irregularities.

However, very little civil work is going on and only rubber mats and play apparatus are coming up in all the gardens,” said a department source. “If the corporation is purchasing in bulk, the contractor should give lower rates, which is not happening in this case. BMC officials and contractors are using this modus operandi to misuse public money and make a quick buck,” he added.

Activist speak
Nikhil Desai, an activist and member of F/North citizens federation, slammed the civic body for purchasing the mats at four times the cost. “This is a clear-cut case of corruption. After the flop show at Five Gardens, BMC is now going to spend more on play apparatus and rubber mats procured at high rates,” said Desai.

“A garden should be more about greenery, but now you can only see rubber flooring and playground equipment. Some of the equipment at Five Gardens had broken down within a week. We should focus on more natural work in gardens rather than spending on rubber mats,” he added.