Last week, NMTV News had brought to you an exclusive expose on how NMMC is draining the tax payer’s money in the name of footpath repair and maintenance. We brought to you visuals of footpaths across sectors in Vashi that were in perfect conditions, yet NMMC is all set to spend crores in the name of repairing these footpaths. In the follow up of our report, NMTV visited sector 17, Vashi and met the local corporator NCP’s sampat shewale to find out why exactly he had proposed footpath work amounting to rs. 1 crore in his ward. And no point for guessing that he fumbled and had all lame excuses and answers for spending a crore in the name of footpath repair in just one sector.
In the standing committee meeting held within a time span of one month, four proposals of footpath repair in sector 17, Vashi have been approved. These controversial proposals included
* proposal no. 26 approved on april 29, 2011
In this particular the administration presented a lump some proposal for repairing footpaths in sector 1 to 8, 17 and 30a for a sum of rs. 42 lacs 90 thousand 262 to classic construction.
* proposal no. 23 approved on april 29, 2011
The same day the standing committee approved another controversial proposal of footpath repair, again for sector 17, Vashi. The work being repairing footpath from navratna hotel to abc corporation and the contract was awarded to ajwani infrastructure for a whopping for rs. 37 lacs 28 thousand 336.
* proposal no. 27 approved on may 12, 2011
Within two weeks, NMMC administration tabled a third proposal again for footpath repair in sector 17, Vashi for the standing committee’s approval. This was an administrative proposal for footpath repair from satyam corner in sector 17, Vashi to navratna hotel. The budgeted estimate for the work is rs. 24 lacs 77 thousand 338.
* text ? Proposal no. 17 approved on may 19, 2011
The very next week, the administration brought a fourth proposal for footpath repair again in sector 17, Vashi. This time it was an administrative approval to invite tenders for repairing the footpaths from abhudaya bank in sector 17 to Vashi plaza for a estimated budget of rs. 24 lacs 99 thousand 923.
What was really surprising was that, no member of the NMMC standing committee questioned these four controversial proposals for footpath repair work in sector 17, Vashi despite the fact that these four proposals amount to rs. 1 crore of public taxes ! Worst is that the proposals do not mention any details of what footpath repair work will be done, for how many kms of footpaths and for which areas. There is no clarity on any of this. When we had questioned the standing committee chairman ramesh shinde about this apparent and blatant wastage of public funds in the name of footpath repair, he put the onus of responsibility on the local corporator saying that it is the local corporator who proposes the work.
This means that the rs. 1 crore of public taxes that NMMC is going to spend on footpath repair in sector 17, Vashi has been proposed by the corporator of the ward NCP’s sampat shewale. We met sampat shewale to find out what made him keep such an absurd proposal in NMMC that stinks of massive corruption considering the fact that most footpaths in sector 17, Vashi are in perfect conditions. Sampat shewale took our team on a tour of the areas where footpath repair is going to be carried out and again we witnessed that most of the footpaths that sampat shewale was showing to us were in perfect conditions. At all spots sampat shewale changed explanations and justifications, fumbled and gave lame excuses for spending rs. 1 crore on footpath repair in his ward. In fact the explanation that sampat shewale gave to us endorsed the fact that footpath loot has become a dirty business in NMMC. Let’s first take a look at the stretch from abyudhya bank to Vashi plaza where NMMC is going to spend rs. 25 lacs of tax payers’ money on footpath repair. Except for few minor repairs and changing a few interlocks here and there, the entire footpath stretch was in perfect condition as most of it has been made by shop owners of this stretch.
At the spot, we were compelled to ask sampat shewale why he proposed to spend rs. 25 lacs of tax payers money on this stretch, when most of the footpaths were in perfect condition. Defending his proposal, he said that lakhs will be spent as the entire footpath will be replaced. But why is NMMC removing the interlock tiles that are in perfect condition? For this sampat shewale gave a more absurd answer. He said that NMMC will use the good paver blocks from sector 17, Vashi in some other area !
We then moved on to the next stretch between navratna hotel and abc corporation where NMMC is going to spend 38 lacs of public taxes. Here too most of the footpaths were in good conditions and only handful number of interlock tiles needed to be replaced both on the side footpaths and the dividers in the sector. Again we asked him the obvious question. Why is NMMC spending rs. 38 lacs on this stretch that does not need much repair? Giving another lame excuse or rather cover up answer, sampat shewale said that the lakhs of expenditure will be inclusive of changing the grills and the entire dividers in the stretch.
Our last stop was the stretch of footpath between satyam corner to navratna hotel. All footpaths here are in perfect conditions, have been built by the shop owners themselves and is a very small stretch, yet NMMC is going to spend rs. 25 lacs of tax payer’s money in such a small stretch, that too when the footpath here is in perfect condition. Even sampat shewale seemed to have run out of all his lame answers for this stretch and came up with the most absurd excuse. He said that here work will be done only where needed and contractor will be paid for only that much work. Even sampat shewale agreed that the shop owners had placed the tiles and these won’t be removed. So if sampat shewale is to be believed, then NMMC will not pay the contractor rs. 25 lacs for this stretch but only the money that will be needed in the minor repair work here. Then why did NMMC engineering dept. Make a proposal for rs. 25 lacs? Did the engineers make the proposal without inspecting the area or is corruption the reason for this? When we asked, sampat shewale this question, he again fumbled and said that he will spend all the money allocated in the proposal.
Once again take a look at how sampat shewale says he will use all the money approved in the proposal to make the footpath. The way he speaks makes one forget whether we are speaking to a corporator or a contractor ! Finally we asked him about the lump some proposal where NMMC has approved footpath repair work along with sector 1 to 8 and sector 30a. On this sampat shewale again gave another lame excuse saying that the money from that tender will be used only if needed during monsoon. Despite being the one to propose the work, sampat shewale had no idea of the kms of footpaths that is going to be repaired.
When we asked him why did he propose this work that is a clear wastage of public funds, he pushed the blame on residents saying that they had demanded it. Clearly, sampat shewale had no justification for spending rs. 1 crore in the name of footpath repair in his area. The 1 crore of public taxes that NMMC is going to spend in the name of footpath repair in sector 17, Vashi will mostly be pocketed by the corrupt officials – corporators – contractors nexus. However what corporators should not forget is that they cannot get away with public tax loot all the time. The public is watching, seeing and voicing that if corporators continue to waste public taxes like this, they will face the consequences for it in the next elections. With bureau inputs, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.