Mumbai: Chhagan Bhujbal leaves Andheri RTO in deep water

Mar 16, 2016, 07:03 IST | Shashank Rao

RTO faces 25% fine and possibly disconnection of water supply because of a construction error by the developer who was awarded the contract by Chhagan Bhujbal

Even as Chhagan Bhujbal is behind bars, the Andheri RTO continues to suffer the consequences of his alleged corruption. The RTO is part of the high-profile Maharashtra Sadan scam in which Bhujbal stands accused of accepting kickbacks to favour a particular contractor, Chamankar Developers. This very developer has now been slapped with a notice for a faulty water connection to the RTO – the water pipeline and meter both lie buried under the building, where they can neither be checked nor repaired by the BMC.

The Andheri RTO building’s construction was among the many contracts sanctioned by Bhujbal as PWD minister that has now come under the scanner. File pic
The Andheri RTO building’s construction was among the many contracts sanctioned by Bhujbal as PWD minister that has now come under the scanner. File pic

But since Chamankar has been out of sight for months, the RTO will have to pay the price — not only will it have to pay a 25% fine, but its water connection could also be cut by the corporation if the problem isn’t resolved.

The ED in its investigations has alleged there are irregularities in a 2006 contract worth over R100 crore, which the then PWD minister Bhujbal awarded to Chamankar Developers for the construction of Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, a new Regional Transport Office (RTO) building in Andheri, and a state guesthouse at Malabar Hill.

Days before Bhujbal’s arrest, on March 9, the BMC’s hydraulic engineering department in the K/W ward issued a notice over the water connection granted to Andheri RTO. The notice, sent to the RTO authorities and developer K Chamankar, states: ‘This is to inform you that the premises as mentioned above is fed with 50mm metered water connection… with meter number 264590. It is observed that the condition of the existing water meter and delivery pipe line is found buried and not traceable. It is the responsibility of the consumer to keep the pipeline and water meter in visible condition’.

It is important to keep the main pipeline and water meter accessible so that officials can not only check water usage but also make any required changes to the connection, such as installing broader pipes and augmenting the water supply.

Water problems
This would have come in handy, since sources at the RTO said they have been facing water problems ever since the building was erected. “Toilets don’t have sufficient water supply and we also receive complaints about inadequate drinking water supply at the premises,” said an RTO official.

The notice allowed the RTO and Chamankar 48 hours to resolve the problem and provide expose the pipeline and meter, but the deadline has already passed. According to the municipal water rules, (rule number 3.1 effective from April 1, 2015) an additional 25 % will be charged on the water bill. RTO officials agree that this will only mean a loss to the public exchequer, but aren’t sure what else can be done.

Worse, with the Maharashtra Sadan scam now under such intense scrutiny, even Chamankar could be in trouble, and this will delay any solutions for the RTO. Chamankar was last sighted in January, during the Road Safety fortnight. In the meanwhile, the RTO is facing a worst-case scenario of the disconnection of its water supply.

P Masurkar, Assistant Commissioner of the K/W ward said, “I haven’t personally seen the notice, but we will take the necessary action.”

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