BMC yet to respond to probe against contractors for mixing debris with garbage

Updated: 17 January, 2018 13:52 IST | Laxman Singh | Mumbai

Two months after police sought documents to prosecute contractors who cheated BMC by mixing debris with garbage, civic officials yet to respond

Contractors mix debris in wet garbage to charge the BMC more. File Pic
Contractors mix debris in wet garbage to charge the BMC more. File Pic

The BMC continues to waste time instead of filing an FIR against tainted contractors who were found mixing construction debris in wet waste. The civic body discovered the multi-crore garbage scam as far back as August. In November, the police even summoned officials for information, but two months on, the Corporation is yet to respond.

On August 24 and August 28, officials from the Solid Waste Management (SWM) department wrote to the Kurla and Vikhroli police to register a complaint against 8 contractors involved in the garbage scam. The contractors were in charge of transporting solid/wet waste to the city's dumping grounds, but were found mixing debris in the garbage in order to increase the weight and hike up their charges.

The BMC has identified 10 contractors involved in the fraud
The BMC has identified 10 contractors involved in the fraud

Multi-crore fraud
While there is no official figure for how big the scam was, it is estimated to run into crores. Contractors were cheating the BMC in two ways — firstly, they could charge more for wet waste, and secondly, they also got more money than they would for the construction debris. The BMC pays Rs 875 per tonne of garbage, but only Rs 40 for construction debris.

After the BMC cracked down on the errant contractors, the city's daily collection of solid waste has gone down from 9,500 metric tonnes to 7,500 metric tonnes. According to officials, a large portion of this decrease is due to the rubbish racket getting busted. A senior civic official said, "It is a big scam, as mixing debris gives several benefits to the contractors. Not only do they get more money from the Corporation for transporting the waste, but they also get money from builders who are looking for inexpensive ways to dispose of construction debris."

The SWM department headed by Additional Municipal Commissioner Vijay Singhal, had stated in the complaint that these contractors collected waste from areas like Malad, Kurla, Andheri, Borivli. The department reported 24 cases of garbage fraud. In response to the complaint, the Vikhroli and Kurla police stations wrote back to the BMC on November 10 and November 14 (mid-day has copies), summoning the concerned officials from the SWM department with documents to assist in further investigation. Two months have passed since then, but the civic body has not taken any action.

mid-day contacted senior police inspectors Lalsaheb Sethi (Kurla) and Sanjay More (Vikhroli), who said they would have to check the details of the case before they could comment.

Environmental issue
Activist Nikhil Desai said the scam could also have environmental repercussions, as it will compromise the biodegradation of the wet waste. "The BMC is planning to begin scientific disposal of the garbage at the three major dumping grounds at Kanjurmarg, Deonar and Mulund. This will convert the waste to energy. But if contractors mix debris in the waste, it will hamper this process." He added, "BMC officials must follow up on the matter and bring the tainted contractors to book. If the civic body doesn't show interest, the contractors will not fear the law and will do whatever they want."

The other side
Officials said that for the past fortnight, a team from the central government has been taking stock of the Swacch Bharat initiatives in the city, and the BMC was busy preparing for this. Minesh Pimple, deputy chief engineer of the SWM dept, said, "We were busy with the Swaccha Survekshan programme, so we couldn't visit the police station. We will not let go of the matter. Soon, we will send our officers and pursue the matter."

7.5k Weight (in metric tonnes) of daily garbage collected after BMC cracked down on the scam

Rs 875 Rate per tonne for transporting solid waste

9.5k Weight (in metric tonnes) of daily garbage collected earlier

Rs 40 Rate per tonne for transporting debris

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First Published: 17 January, 2018 10:15 IST

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