The inquiry into the Rs 324-crore road scam has taken another turn — 10 field officers of the firm that was to verify the status of road works have been arrested for providing misinformation.
Civic chief Ajoy Mehta had ordered an inquiry into the road works in October last year, following a confidential letter by mayor Snehal Ambekar alleging malpractices. During the inspection of 14 roads from the island city, 11 from western suburbs and nine from the eastern suburbs, the BMC-appointed inquiry team found massive irregularities in road repair and reconstruction work, as the foundation of the roads was not according to the standard and the quality of road work was shoddy, stated the FIR.
Taking note of the findings, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta earlier suspended two chief engineers, blacklisted six contractors and two third party auditors.
The arrested accused are Santosh Kadam, Ashfaq Sayyed, Milind Kumawat, Rakesh Merwade, Pawankunar Shukla, Premanand Dhanawade, Mangesh Talekar, Dhiraj Fuljhele, Rahul Shinde and Dhairyashil Patil.
Deputy commissioner of police Ashok Dhudhe said several others, including BMC employees, may be arrested for their involvement. “We are investigating the role of each of the accused,” Dudhe said.
The case was registered in April and the complaint is being probed by an ACP-level officer. The FIR states the shoddy job cost the civic body more than Rs10 crore of public money. The FIR was registered under sections 120 (A) (criminal conspiracy), 197 (producing false documents) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.
In the wake of the scam, the BMC has proposed major changes to the tendering process for civic contracts to keep a check on contractors’ cartels and the consequent irregularities.
To curb cartelization and promote fair competition among bidders, the civic body also plans to reduce the deposit money up to 10% of the contract cost. According to the source, the BMC takes four types of deposits from contractors against the total contract cost, which is up to 40%.