Activist alleges absence of feasibility study for track inaugurated last year proves it was a moneymaking scheme, as MMRDA paid the contractor even though the track's condition is pathetic
It has come to light that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) went ahead with the Rs 6.48-crore cycling track project at BKC -- which turned out to be a whopping failure --without doing its homework. A Right To Information (RTI) application filed by a Mumbai-based NGO has revealed that the authority wasted public money on the cycling track without even doing a feasibility study or survey.
Chairman of NGO Athak Seva Sangh, Anil Galgali, had filed the application with the MMRDA, asking whether the track, inaugurated by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in April last year, was backed by any survey on its possible and practical uses. "In response to my query, the MMRDA stated that no survey was done regarding the project or the number of people deemed likely to use it. This shows how some clever officers are going ahead and wasting public money without taking other officials into confidence."
In the RTI response, the MMRDA also stated that it has paid the entire project cost to the contractor, as the work done on the cycling track was up to the mark. However, one glance at the track would reveal how shoddily the work was done.
Galgali said, "How can MMRDA be satisfied with the project work? Any layman who goes and inspects the track will come to know what the reality is. The condition of the track is pathetic even though it was inaugurated barely 8-9 months ago. Hardly anyone uses it. Bicycle riders prefer driving on the road as the uneven patches on the track surface can cause skids and accidents. This proves that the project fell victim to massive corruption, and that it was a plan to pocket money by awarding tenders to contractors.
Soon after the track's inauguration, MiD DAY had reported ('Mr CM, see what you inaugurated!') how the MMRDA had got the CM to inaugurate a track before it was even completed. Even at the time of the function, the track was rugged and bumpy at many spots. In fact, many times, four-wheelers are parked on the unused track.
The activist has now written (copy of letter with MiD DAY) to Chavan, who is also MMRDA chairman, and to Rahul Asthana, MMRDA commissioner asking for immediate action against the officer responsible for planning the project. The letter states that the loss of Rs 6.48 crore, which indirectly accrues to the exchequer, should be recovered from the salary of the officers who implemented the project.
"It is my request to the CM and the MMRDA commissioner that they should recover the money wasted on the project from the salary of Additional Metropolitan Commissioner S V R Srinivas, as I have heard that the project was his brainwave," Galgali said.
Did you know?
MMRDA started work on the 13-km cycling track project at G Block in BKC on October 19, 2010 and the track was inaugurated on April 23, 2011 by CM Prithviraj Chavan.
The other side
Additional Metropolitan Commissioner S V R Srinivas said, "We came up with this project to promote cycling and we are confident that people will start using the track soon. They are not using it because there are no cycles available. Soon we will have a tie-up with a company that will provide cycles on rent." Will MMRDA act against the contractor? "The project is in the defect liability so we will ask the contractor to maintain the cycling track," he said.
Officer pulled up
Highly-placed sources in the authority told this newspaper that after the RTI was filed, a very senior MMRDA official immediately called on the officer who had planned the project and asked him to give a clarification. "The senior officer told him (officer in-charge of the project) that due to lack of planning on his part, the authority had to face criticism from the public and the media due to the failure of the cycling track project," said the source from MMRDA, requesting anonymity.