Mumbai: BMC ducks RTI request for report on shoddy road repairs

Jun 03, 2017, 08:50 IST | Laxman Singh

BMC wants to keep internal probe into its dirty business 'private', tells RTI activist reports of inquiries into 1st and 2nd phase of road repairs is 'personal' information

The second phase of the inquiry into repairs on 200 roads was completed two months ago. File pic
The second phase of the inquiry into repairs on 200 roads was completed two months ago. File pic

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wants to keep internal probe into its dirty business 'private'. When activist Noor Mohammad Khan from Goregaon sought reports of BMC's second phase of inquiry into shoddy road repair works through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, his request was volleyed from one office to the next, after which the civic body refused to give him the inquiry reports, terming it as personal information, that has nothing to do with public interest.

BMC's probes
Last year, after municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta ordered an inquiry into 34 roads in the first phase, its report had revealed gross irregularities and shoddy repair work amounting to losses of R11 crore of revenue. Following the report, BMC had registered an FIR against six contractors and currently, a special team of the police is conducting it's own inquiry.

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Immediately after the first phase, the civic body initiated a second phase of inquiry into 200 roads. The report for it was submitted to the BMC chief, in which 11 contractors were indicted for shoddy work. According to the second report, BMC has lost approximately R60 crore in shoddy road repair work.

Playing office-office
Khan had filed his first RTI in the office of the deputy municipal commissioner (DMC) zone-3 Vasant Prabhu, who was heading the inquiry, to get reports of both the probes.

Speaking to mid-day Khan said, "The DMC office sent a letter on April 15 and said that the copy of inquiry report is not available, and is being sent to the Roads and Traffic and Inquiry departments, so you can approach these offices to collect the document."

"When I approached the Inquiry department, they forwarded my report to the Road and Traffic department." The Road and Traffic department officials ultimately rejected his plea citing it as personal information, which is not related to public interest. (see box: BMC says).

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The second phase of the inquiry was completed two months ago, and BMC had issued show cause notices to 11 tainted contractors, but had not blacklisted them or registered an FIR against them. mid-day reported on the inaction in the May 15 report, 'BMC yet to blacklist, file FIR against tainted road contractors'.

Why hide?
Khan said, "If BMC is claiming they have completed the inquiry report, then why they are hiding it? The Prime Minister and chief minister talk about 'transparency', but the road department is hiding the information. I think there is something wrong with the inquiry."

Khan then appealed on May 31 to the executive engineer of the road department, but it was also shot down.

BMC says
Speaking to mid-day, Sanjat Darate, chief engineer of the Roads and Traffic department said, "The inquiry is on and we have sought an explanation from the contractors on the alleged malpractices. Considering the status of the inquiry, we can't provide the reports to anyone."

Rs 11 cr
Loss to BMC because of shoddy road repair work on 34 roads

Rs 60 cr
Loss to BMC because of shoddy road repairs carried out on 200 roads

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