The ugly brawl between two municipal contractors which had taken a violent turn right inside the main administrative building of the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) on Tuesday has not only exposed chinks in the tender procurement process but has yet again highlighted the need of introducing reforms in the e-tendering system of the civic body which has earned notoriety for its corruption and illegal activities.
A heated exchange of words apparently over withdrawal of tender application related to a civil work triggered a fight between contractors identified as Raju Singh and Krunal Joshi on the fourth floor of the MBMC building which houses the office of the public works department (PWD). Both the contractors owe their allegiance to leaders of two different political parties in the MBMC.
The Free Press Journal has been exposing the loopholes being exploited by a cartel of contractors to bag municipal tenders in a wrongful manner. The e-tendering procurement system is operational in the MBMC since 2010, however, a section of contractors with dodgy track records continue to exploit the loopholes by forming cartels aimed at eliminating competitive bidding process.
Online portals provide a platform to contractors on which they on the virtue of digital certificates can not only electronically download and upload tender documents, but also make secured online payments towards deposits.
However, the system is under the scanner as many firms withdraw their bids at the last moment, due to unexplained reasons. Moreover, there have been instances when dubious bidders in an attempt to extract money from genuine companies under the pretext of pre-bid negotiations deliberately refrain from uploading mandated documents while submitting their tender bids.
As per rules, contractors have to just deposit EMD’s as security regardless of how low they bid. Another point of concern is quoting of amounts much lower than the MBMC's own estimates which ultimately ends up producing shoddy work.
Bending the Dynamic Rule Book:
In 2015, the then civic chief in a bid to tighten screws had implemented several guidelines including dynamic deposits (lower the bids, higher the deposit), rate analysis for establishing rationality of quoted rates compared to estimated and prevailing market rates, forfeiture of EMD’s and time locks of digital. It has also come to light that a cartel of contractors, who first bid for contracts but then stepped away to ensure the highest bidder got the work instead of the lowest.