Rs 6.5-cr cycling track 'nonsense project' admits MMRDA

MMRDA admits that building the track in a corporate area like BKC was a failed idea; now plans to inspect the track to see where the money has gone

Coming down heavily on the officials who conceived and executed the Rs 6.48-crore cycling track at BKC, the top brass of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) termed the project as "nonsense". The acerbic remark comes after voices were raised against the MMRDA's tremendous expenditure on a project which has been a dud, and for which no feasibility study was conducted. MMRDA authorities are now planning to conduct a ground inspection of the track to find where exactly the money has been spent.

Off track: After series of reports in MiD DAY on the failure of the BKC
cycling track, the MMRDA officials will inspect the shoddy work done by
the contractors.

Speaking to MiD DAY, a senior MMRDA official, requesting anonymity, said, "I feel that the cycling track project is a nonsense project. It should have never been planned at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) where there are corporate houses. We have taken a serious note of the reports published in the media about the failure of the project and the shoddy work done by the contractor. We will soon conduct an inspection to find out where and on what Rs 6.48 crore has been spent."

The official carried on and said that the people who planned this project should start applying their mind. "Any layman will tell you that constructing a cycling track at BKC is not a good idea as this is a business district. How can you expect a person coming to an MNC to use a cycling track? It would have been successful if it were constructed in an area where there are many residential colonies."

The comment comes after a series of stories published in MiD DAY about how there are no takers for the cycling track, owing partially to its bad shape, and how it is being used as a place to park cars.

Penalise officers
Sources in the authority told this newspaper that the track was the brainchild of Additional Metropolitan Commissioner SVR Srinivas.

A reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by a Mumbai-based NGO revealed that the authority spent the public money on the project that has flopped miserably without even conducting a feasibility study or survey about its potential use before implementation.

The RTI activist who sought the information had also written to CM Prithviraj Chavan, who is MMRDA's chairman, and Rahul Asthana, MMRDA commissioner, demanding that immediate action be taken against the officer responsible for planning the project. The loss of over Rs 6.48 crore that has indirectly happened to the exchequer should be recovered from the salary of the officers who implemented the project, the activist demanded.

Status quo
On Thursday this correspondent visited the G Block area in BKC where the cycling track has been constructed only to see that at some places vehicles were parked on the track. At most of the places the surface was so uneven and slippery due to mud covering the track that if anyone rode a bicycle there they would skid. At one of the places, a small tree had fallen on the track. It has been lying there for the past seven days but MMRDA has not found the time to clear it. At one of the places, there was a giant puddle of muck and dirt impossible for cyclists to manoeuvre. The yellow blocks that separate the road from the cycling track were getting dislocated.

Rajesh Yadav, a tea vendor from the area, said, "Most of the times, I have seen car owners park their vehicles on the track. Whenever a private security guard tells them not to, they just say they that no one uses the track anyway."

It also appeared to us that at many places the track was not even cleaned because of which small plastic cups and pouches were lying on the track.

MMRDA says
MMRDA Commissioner Rahul Asthana said, "Certainly, it hasn't had the kind of response I presumed it would get at that time."

Srinivas, the brain behind the project, said, "The project was planned with an aim to encourage cycling."

When we informed him that his seniors had called it "nonsense", he refused to comment. Asked if he had rode round the track for any inspection, he said, "I personally have not visited the track after it was inaugurated.

But junior engineers must have visited it to see if it was being properly maintained. As the project is in the defect liability period, it is the duty of the contractor to maintain it and we will ask him to do that."

MiD DAY's reports

Soon after the cycling track at BKC was inaugurated, this paper had published a story ('Mr CM, see what you inaugurated!' April 29, 2011) where it was brought to light how the CM had been roped in to inaugurate an incomplete track at BKC. Officials then asked the project officers to finish the work on a priority basis ('MMRDA pulled up for BKC cycling track', May 1, 2011)

MiD DAY's reports on April 29, 2011, and January 2, 2012

This year, MiD DAY reported ('RTI: No survey done for Rs 6.5-cr BKC cycle track', January 2, 2012) about the RTI revelation on how there was no feasibility study conducted before undertaking and implementing the project. In this report, the RTI activist who sought and received the information even accused project officials of ulterior motives behind granting the project to the contractor.

Did you know?
MMRDA started work on the 13-km cycling track at G Block in BKC on October 19-2010 and it was inaugurated on April 23, 2011 at the hands of CM Prithviraj Chavan

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