Civic engineers make mockery of Kunte’s e-tendering

Mumbai : Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte is livid after he learnt that his pet project to reduce corruption had become a tool for corruption. The e-tendering process for minor maintenance contracts was supposed to root out corruption but it appears that some civic engineers colluded with contractors to manipulate the process.

Sources say that Kunte is all set to suspend the 20 tainted engineers on Tuesday. But unsatisfied corporators are demanding an FIR be filed against them as well as the contractors under the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and a thorough review of the e-tendering process be done. According to the opposition in the BMC, the BMC lost Rs 100 crore in the scam.

“How can the BMC just suspend these engineers? This is a criminal offence and an FIR should be filed against them. Also, I believe that engineers can’t do this by themselves and the role of senior officials must be probed. Besides, the e-tendering process must be reviewed to make it airtight,” said MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande.

Opposition leader in the BMC Devendra Amberkar said that action should also be taken against the contractors involved. He, too, believes that the e-tendering process must be reviewed.

In order to curb corruption in the tendering process of minor contracts, the BMC had in 2012 replaced the civic works contract (CWC) system with the e-tendering process. Under CWC, works such as road repair, maintenance of footpaths, streetlights, etc were carried out through corporators’ fund, while e-tendering system involves online bidding for such works.

Under the e-tendering system, online bids are accepted for three days for works up to Rs 3 lakh. In case of higher value, the time period to accept responses is seven days. In order to favour certain contractors, corporators alleged, the engineers concerned would open sites for a transit period and block it.

In a confidential report, BMC’s test auditor vigilance (TAV) department had recommended suspension of these engineers.

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