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Parties smell a rat in BMC's 'fishy' laundry policy

The BMC’s plan to outsource its laundry service has come under attack from several quarters. The proposal, if passed, will see an outside agency washing clothes from six civic hospitals every day, in a Rs 4 crore-a-year deal

If the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities have their way, at least one neighbourhood laundry shop owner will soon be laughing all the way to the bank.

BMC’s Power Laundry at Boiwada, where hospital clothes are now washed. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
BMC’s Power Laundry at Boiwada, where hospital clothes are now washed. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

In a proposed 10-year deal expected to be worth at least Rs 4 crore a year, the BMC may soon hand out the contract to a laundryman to wash over 2,000 pieces of clothes from six civic hospitals in the city every day.

According to BMC officials, the cost of washing and ironing clothes will be increased by 5 per cent every two years
According to BMC officials, the cost of washing and ironing clothes will be increased by 5 per cent every two years

That amounts to a staggering 7.35 lakh aprons, bed sheets, doctors’ gowns, patients’ clothes and other pieces of clothing per year. In April 2008, the BMC had invited bids for washing clothes used by patients and hospital staff.

All six special hospitals run by the BMC including Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli, ENT Hospital in Fort, Eye Hospital in Mumbai Central, TB Hospital in Sewri, Wadala’s Acworth Leprosy Hospital and Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central, were part of the plan.

Four contractors had responded to the tender with the highest bid amount coming in at R9 per cloth with the charges including washing and ironing. The lowest bid was at Rs 6.93 per cloth. The proposal was never implemented.

Strange as it is, six years later, the same lowest bidder has now mysteriously reduced his rate per cloth to a mere Rs 4.70 defying inflation. According to BMC officials, the cost of washing and ironing clothes will be increased by five per cent every two years. According to the proposal, the contractor will have to collect the clothes four times a week from the hospital and deliver them back again.

Opposition smells 'something fishy'
However, not everyone has bought in to the idea. “The proposal was delayed by six years. Now suddenly, they want to allot a contract to someone for 10 years, which sounds very fishy.

If the contractor can reduce cost from Rs 7 to Rs 4.70, maybe we should wait some more and he will reduce the rates further,” said Pravin Chheda, Congress corporator from Ghatkopar.

Surprisingly, even Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members raised doubts over the proposal. “We should know who is going to benefit from this proposal and why it was kept in cold storage for six years? We should get these answers from the administration,” said Manoj Kotak, BJP leader in the BMC.

Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissione, however said that he will submit the information before standing committee soon. Since 2008, all clothing used at these six hospitals were being washed at BMC’s laundry in Bhoiwada near Sewri and from a private laundry.

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