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MAJOR CORRUPTION IN TENDER BIDDING PROCESS AND FAILURE OF NMMC HEALTH DEPT. TO TACKLE MALARIA AND DENGUE EXPOSED AT THIS WEEK’S STANDING COMMITTEE MEET

standing-report-3Political rivalry might be the reason but for the city, it is definitely exposing things in the interest of the public. At this week’s Standing Committee meet, the debate and rejection of H B Bhise and Company for removing encroachments and illegal constructions contract has exposed how the official-corporators-contractors nexus is draining Crores of public funds into the pockets of a few. In this particular contract, it is believed that there is allegedly the ghost partnership of a top NMMC official. Navi Mumbai News brings to you an exclusive report. The NMMC Standing Committee opposition members scored over the ruling NCP by rejecting the lowest tender bid of H.B.Bhise for the contract to remove encroachments and illegal constructions in the city with 7 votes against 6. Two NCP members Sanjay Patil and Mahadev Thorat were absent, which facilitated the victory of the opposition. The Chairman Vijay Chougule ordered the opening of all tenders on the very day of the tender to avoid foul play. He ordered an enquiry into the payments to the same contractor in the previous 3 years for the same work, after Shivram Patil pointed out that the contractor’s present bid was nearly half of the amount charged during the last 3 years. The estimated budget for removal of encroachments in the current financial year is Rs.70 Lakhs and for removal of illegal constructions is Rs. 1 crore. The opposition members were evidently on a witch-hunt aiming to strike a body blow to Ganesh Naik loyalist M. K. Madhavi, who’s openly known to be the patron of the said contractor whose bid has been rejected. Most NMMC contracts are alleged to be either patronized by or proxy contracts of certain corporators, which are exposed when political rivalry lead to raising controversy over contracts in the corporation like the present one. Shivram Patil alleged that no encroachments or illegal constructions were removed in the city, instead they are being regularised. He pointed out that reports of demolition of 600 illegal structures in the 14 villages did not mention who built these illegal structures. He alleged that the very powers that allowed the illegal structures were demolishing them leading to loss of public revenue. Vittal More warned that approval of the contract would be like the approval of the Ghantagadi contract for Rs.7 crores instead of the actual cost of only Rs. 2.5 crores. Ramakant Mhatre alleged that all bills paid to the contractor included those for work not executed and demanded details of all bills paid to the contractor. He demanded the replacement of one contract for the whole city with two separate contracts for two zones of the city and the floating of short tenders within 8 days till the new bids are approved. After the opposition members created a hullabaloo over the contract and the alleged corruption in it for the last three years, Chairman Vijay Chougule ordered the floating of two tenders for the two zones, an enquiry on earlier payments to the contractor, retaining the present lowest bid as the base price for tenders to be floated and all payments to the contractors be stopped till the enquiry is completed. In an interview with Navi Mumbai News Vijay Chougule said that this contract is just an example of the corruption prevailing in the tender bidding process at NMMC that he has taken up. When Vijay Chougule ordered installing payments to the contractor and a complete enquiry into the alleged corruption, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Amrish Patnigire informed that bids are approved by the SC and general body and are placed after scrutiny and approval by the 4 members tender committee. Vijay Chougule ordered the administration to stop feeding favoured contractors and demanded to know if they were on the payroll of the contractors. He ordered an enquiry by legal officer Sanjay Bhate into the approval of rates of the said work in the previous years. Reliable sources allege that there is a ghost partnership of an official in the said contract also. The bid has been rejected by the majority opposition, rendering the tender procedure a farce even as bonafied lowest bidder has been rejected alleging foul play. But there is no provision to prevent the same bidder from bidding for the tenders in both the zones. Severe allegations are made but no punishment proposed for the guilty. The only silver lining being that corruption in tender procedures is being exposed in public interest, even though it is provoked merely by political rivalry. Later the ruling NCP that was in complete support of the tender accepted that an enquiry was indeed necessary. However, when we tried to speak to Deputy Municipal Commissioner Amrish Patnigire about the administrations’ reply to the alleged corruption in the contract, he refused to comment in the matter.

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