The Rs 100-crore e-tendering scam in the BMC has claimed its first big victim. Under pressure to investigate allegations that his engineers had facilitated the scam and following allegations that his department was shielding those involved, the BMC’s high-profile director of Information Technology, Hitesh Vora, resigned in a huff on Monday, barely six months after taking up the job.
mid-day’s report on November 20
“Vora was under pressure to probe the scam but he held his ground, claiming it was not his responsibility to look into misappropriations carried out by civic staffers,” said a senior BMC official. Sources said Vora’s resignation was submitted to Additional Municipal Commissioner S V R Srinivas, who held deliberations with him on Wednesday.
“It is better you ask the additional municipal commissioner about it,” Vora said when he was asked why he had resigned. Srinivas, however, told mid-day that Vora’s resignation has not been accepted yet.
Vora was roped in as a private consultant from a top software firm at a package of Rs 30 lakh per annum, which is allegedly higher even than Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte’s salary. His appointment was shrouded in controversy when it was announced in July.
The Rs 100-crore e-tendering scam had rocked the corporation in August. The engineers’ favoured contractors got the contracts by bidding 5-25 per cent below the cost set for the work, despite other contractors being willing to bid 40-50 per cent below it, causing a loss to the civic body.
Moreover, as part of the engineer-contractor nexus, BMC engineers allegedly opened up the electronic bidding system for only a certain time window, post-midnight or early in the morning, to ensure that only their favoured contractors could bid. The BMC has suspended over two dozen officials accused in the scam.
In a report on November 20, mid-day had highlighted (‘BMC’s IT department shielding wrongdoers?’) how the Test, Audit and Vigilance Officer department had said that the IT department had not given it the information it needs to conduct a thorough probe, raising the question of whether it was trying to help the engineers and contractors involved in the scam.