The general body demanded cancellation of the Ghantagadi contract of Ramrao Patil and ward-wise award of garbage disposal contracts in place of one contractor for whole city. Since the Commissioner had taken this decision four days prior to the meeting, the discussion on the subject wasted 4 valuable hours of the meeting, sidelining main issues. Devidas Hande Patil in a calling attention motion demanded the cancellation of the Ghantagadi contract of Ramrao Patil for the violation of tender conditions and the high cost awarded for the work. In the very same motion, demanding the cancellation of the contract, Devidas informed that the Municipal Commissioner had issued the notice of cancellation on October 13. Thus negating the need of the motion. However, the members moved the same motion at length and brought out several points that alleged criminal nexus and dereliction of duty by the administration in the award of the contract. Dashrath Bhagat questioned how the contract for Rs. 7 crores annually could be awarded in place of the same work being done for Rs.2.5 crores, without verifying the track record of the contractor. He demanded to know why the contractor was allowed to execute the work for 2 years inspite of his blatant violation of all the terms of the contract and the Supreme Court guidelines. Dashrath Bhagat also questioned the payment of Rs.4 crores to the contractor by NMMC when the contractor owed money to the corporation in fines for violation of all conditions of the contract. Extending this debate further, members began claiming credit for having opposed the award of the contract and also blaming others for the same. Heated arguments ensued between Congress and NCP benches. Narayan Patil recalled that the contract was accepted in collusion with the members of all those opposing the same today, as they were keen to collect the kickbacks. Vittal More recalled how his opposition with documents proving the dark record of the contractor in Nasik fell on deaf ears. He warned one day the general body will review the decision of the award of the super specialty hospital to Hiranandanis. He further alleged that Ramrao Patil was an office bearer of the ruling NCP party, who bagged the contract with blessing from party bosses. The blame and credit seeking game continued with M. K. Madhvi alleging that Ramakant Mhatre had chaired the general body meeting that approved the contract. He recalled how inspite of the general body canceling the contract, the contractor moved the court and won the case against the corporation’s cancellation order. Sudhakar Sonawne termed the debate unnecessary as the commissioner had canceled the contract. Anant Sutar termed Ramrao Patil as an epidemic in the city that called for the need of an antidote. Ramakant Mhatre alleged that former mayor Sanjeev Naik always shied away from major decisions, leaving him to preside when he was deputy mayor. Thus he took the decision after approval of the House. Not missing his chance, Congress District President Corporator Namdeo Bhagat expressed that the ruling NCP was doing what the opposition had to do by calling attention on works approved by them.Namdeo Bhagat alleged that several proposals are approved in haste and questioned why the official who accepted the contractor’s cheque instead of the demand draft was not suspended. He also questioned why the corporatin did not move the Supreme Court against the High court order to accept Ramrao Patil’s cheque. He alleged that the blame lay in the illegal practice of the administration issuing work orders before the signing of agreements. Namdev Bhagat warned that the corporation was violating Supreme Court guidelines by replacing the Ghantagadi contractor with the cleaning contractors as an alternate arrangement. The municipal commissioner Madhukar Kokate announced that he had cancelled the Ghantagadi contract in all the four wards and care has been taken to face any legal action against the order. He stated that the corporation was preparing for the caveat too. Kokate admitted that the corporation had received congratulatory remarks too for the Ghantagadi work in the city, but the first experiment failed to achieve expected results. He agreed that one contractor for the whole city was not appropriate and even the alternate arrangement of garbage disposal by the 81 cleaning contractors could not be a permanent one. Madhukar Kokate in his concluding remarks suggested that if the corporators devote as much time for discussing the subject on the general body agenda, then many pitfalls could be avoided. The 4 hours debate on the calling attention motion concluded without answering key issues raised of human rights violation, the mysterious 800 metric tones of garbage daily, the need of a primary health center near the dumping yard, the issue of work orders before signing agreements and the awards of contracts without political odor. The administration admits mistakes made and calls for effort to avoid the same in future and moving forward, much to the relief of all the wrong – doers, who are never pulled up or penalized for their criminal connivance or indulgence – a win win situation for all participants in criminal practices.
May 17, 2018
June 11, 2018