Mumbai: BMC begins to pave road to monsoon hell with good intentions

Updated: Dec 02, 2019, 07:29 IST | Chetna Sadadekar | Mumbai

Civic chief's decision to scrap tenders for 200+ roads will lead to delay in repair works

Officials claim the entry of new, big contractors will also improve quality of roads. File pic
Officials claim the entry of new, big contractors will also improve quality of roads. File pic

After the drafting of 50-odd tender packages to appoint road contractors for work on around 200 roads in the city, civic chief Praveen Pardeshi has instructed the Roads Department to scrap those and draft new ones.

The civic chief wants to dismantle the contractor lobby by appointing a few big contractors for large-scale road work. The commissioner's ambitions are likely to delay road repairs. The BMC may issue a maximum of five to 10 tender packages instead of the earlier 50. In addition to the delay, the move will also result in more work for the engineers. According to civic officials, the drafting of 50 packages done over the last two months, has now been wasted. Earlier, each tender package cost a maximum of R30 crore, whereas, the new ones will amount to about R100 crore each.

Sources revealed that this is being done to ensure the dismantling of the contractors' lobby and the entry of new players with better funds. In the terms for the new contracts, companies will have to show additional security, which only liquid companies can bear as the amounts will be higher. With R5- and R10-crore contracts, only small-time bidders were coming forward. This is likely to break the established lobby in the civic body. During the reign of Pardeshi's predecessor, Ajoy Mehta, the Roads Department had made a conscious effort to not issue big tenders to be able to keep a close eye on road works.

Issuing tenders on DBT-basis can ensure higher cost, better quality. File pic
Issuing tenders on DBT-basis can ensure higher cost, better quality. File pic

Further, BMC officials are also mulling assigning new road works on Design, Built and Transfer (DBT) basis, where the civic body will just govern the work and closely monitor it. This is being done in the construction of bridges. As per the DBT system, contractors will also maintain the roads on a long-term basis, which may increase the project cost. The overall road works are likely to cost over R500 crore, revealed civic sources.

A senior civic official on request of anonymity, said, "About two weeks ago, the commissioner instructed that we do not go ahead with the tenders and draft new ones. We are yet to finish these drafts as various aspects of the terms and conditions of the contracts are undecided. Merging of various small stretches of roads into one project takes time. It needs more work."

He also said, "But this move will also ensure that bigger players enter the scene and small-time contractors, who may not be performing desirably, are eliminated from the process. And if the tenders are issued under the DBT method, the project cost is likely to go up. But the results would be better as contractors would be liable for maintenance and design, and work will be done faster." Despite repeated attempts to reach Chief Engineer (Roads), Sanjay Darade, he was not available for comment.

Rs 30 cr
Maximum cost of each tender currently

Rs 100 cr
Predicted cost of each large-scale tender

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