Last week, BJP corporator Vinod Mishra had alleged rigging of tenders for utility trenching that led to a loss of Rs 188 crore to the civic body. Mishra, in a letter to civic chief Iqbal Chahal and mayor Kishori Pednekar, had named nine contractors who would get the contract for trenching to lay cables and pipes. The same contractors won the bids at the same rates he had forecast.
P Velrasu, additional municipal commissioner (projects), said: “We have sent the file to the vigilance department to check the possibility of cartelisation. Once we get the report, we will decide the future course of action. The BMC will not tolerate any unfair practices, including cartelisation.”
The BMC’s tendering process needs a complete overhaul. Each day brings fresh allegations of irregularities, undercutting and cartelization. This time it is a multi-crore tender for utility trenching. The fact that winning bids were predicted in advance and the same contractors won the bids is alarming. The BMC must carry out a high-level enquiry and take stern action against both officials and contractors involved.
Mishra alleged that asphalt and mastic ready-mix plant owners colluded with each other and rigged the bidding process. “Even before the financial bids were opened, it was decided whom the tenders were going to be bagged by and I had shared a list of the names with the BMC,” he said. “Due to the restrictive and arbitrary condition of getting an undertaking from asphalt and mastic plant owners, a cartel was formed by contractors. BMC must cancel all these seven tenders of reinstatement of trenches.”
BJP MLA Mihir Kotecha said the party will move the Bombay high court if the BMC doesn’t cancel the tenders. He alleged that the tenders were rigged by two fixers and a DJ at a Vile Parle hotel.
“In August, the tender am-ount was Rs 380 crore and now it’s Rs 569 crore. The previous tenders were cancelled since companies had bid below cost estimates. The companies, th-at had won the bids last time, bagged tenders again at hiked prices,” said Mishra. “The vigilance department must check the bank accounts of all companies and their owners.”