Mumbai: Probe ordered after 250 per cent jump in cost of painting BMC pipes
Rs 41-crore tender issued in September for works very similar to those that were done for Rs 11 crore last year; vigilance department opens investigation
After alleged financial irregularities in road contracts, the BMC may be staring at another scam, this time in the Hydraulic Engineering (HE) department. A tender issued by the civic body in September 2019 for painting water pipelines was pegged at around Rs 41 crore, a whopping 250 per cent rise from a tender issued in March 2018 for a similar job. The cost for last year's job — where the dimensions of the pipes were slightly different — was estimated at around Rs 11 crore.
The fluctuation and a 250 per cent rise in cost, within a span of 18 months, has raised eyebrows of many in civic corridors. The civic staff and a city-based activist has raised red flags over the same. As such, activist Anil Galgali has written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner, Praveen Pardeshi.
In his letter, Galgali has urged the BMC chief to consider revaluation of the tender and conduct an inquiry into the sharp surge in rates. "It looks like the tender has been managed to benefit the contractor. Certainly, this cannot be done without the involvement of civic officials. I have requested the BMC to conduct a thorough inquiry and initiate action against erring officials involved in the act that appears to be helping the private contractor, resulting in financial losses to the corporation," Galgali added.
BMC Chief Praveen Pardeshi
According to calculations, the average per unit cost in the tender issued in September this year comes to Rs 648. The corresponding figure for the March 2018 tender was Rs 185. This figure is arrived at by adding costs for the following four jobs: cleaning of exterior surface of trunk mains, applying epoxy primer, applying high build epoxy barrier coat, and applying polyurethane finish coat.
While each of the above four jobs have varying units of measurements, the final average figure is comparable.
Activist Anil Galgali says that the tender seems to benefit the contractors. File pic
Taking cognisance of the complaint, the civic body ordered an inquiry in the case. In fact, civic officials maintain that Additional Municipal Commissioner (AMC) Pravin Darade has directed Vivek More Chief Engineer (Vigilance) to conduct an inquiry and accordingly submit a report.
"The BMC chief and AMC Darade have taken the issue seriously. The report will show whether there is financial irregularity and the involvement of civic employees," a BMC employee said on condition of anonymity. Despite repeated attempts, Darade was unavailable for comment.
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