BMC recovers only Rs 63 crores from tainted contractors instead of Rs 1,000 cr
After claiming that it will recover close to Rs 1,000 crore in losses from tainted contractors for 2016's shoddy roadwork, the civic body has settled for just Rs 63 crore
The road scam was uncovered in 2016, after contractors were found to have done shoddy or no work at all. Representational Picture
Despite BMC's promises to make crooked contractors pay for ruining Mumbai's roads, it turns out the culprits are not paying nearly enough. While civic officials had earlier claimed that the road scam caused losses of nearly Rs 1,000 crore, the Corporation is now planning to recover only Rs 63.14 crore — just over 6 per cent of the estimated losses — from the tainted contractors.
During its investigation of the road scam, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had found losses of Rs 350 crore in the first phase alone, and nearly double the amount — Rs 600 crore — in the second phase. While the exact amount was never put down in black and white, by this calculation, the road scam sucked close to Rs 1,000 crore of taxpayers' money. But when Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh wrote to the roads department to seek information on the action taken, on January 23, the BMC replied that it proposed to recover Rs 63.14 crore from the contractors. Of this amount, Rs 41.53 crore has been recovered so far.
Shaikh said, "The scam causes losses of more than Rs 1,000 crore, but only Rs 63 crore has been proposed for recovery. The contractors should be made to pay more for their shoddy work." BMC officials said the proposed amount would be recovered from the deposits the contractors had made with the BMC before taking on the projects. Earlier, the municipal corporation had stated that it would lodge a civil suit against the culprit contractors to recover all the losses they caused, but one-and-a-half years later, there has been no action on this front.
Vinod Chithore, chief engineer of roads department, told mid-day, "The recovery amount is based on the final investigation reports of both phases. The amount will be recovered from the contractors from deposits available with the civic body. Also, there are several ongoing works by these contractors — repair works awarded before investigation, so we can also recover money from these works."
As per officials, after the first phase of the inquiry, the civic body registered an FIR against six contractors, and in the second phase, they found 11 contractors guilty and issued show-cause notices to them. During the first phase, the BMC suspended two chief engineers and the police arrested 25 people. BMC chief Ajoy Mehta announced action on 94 officers and engineers. One deputy chief engineer was dismissed from service. A senior civic official said, "The civic chief is finalising punishment for officials involved in the second phase of inquiry; it will be announced by the end of the month."
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