Always in the news mostly for the wrong reasons, the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) is now under the scanner over an alleged scam in the purchase of consumables for various healthcare facilities including institutional quarantine units and Covid Care centres which were set up for isolation and treatment amid the deadly pandemic.
Interestingly, the whistle-blower has turned out to be municipal corporator Sriprakash Singh Munna who represents the BJP which single-handedly rules the civic body on the virtue of its majority in the 94-member house.
Armed with evidence, Munna dropped a bombshell by alleging massive corruption in the purchase of consumables including toothpaste, toothbrush, mosquito repellent, mineral water, plastic buckets, talcum powder, oil and even pillows, beds and PPE kits which were procured at highly inflated prices, some astronomically higher than the printed maximum retail price.
“As the common man stayed indoors to follow the lockdown norms, some greedy officials and contractors were busy pocketing money by corrupt means. For example repellents and buckets which cost Rs 89 and Rs 50 were supplied for Rs 175 and Rs 150 respectively. Not only were the purchase rates of 36 items inflated, but some products were also of sub-standard quality and unknown brands. I have demanded FIR’s to be registered against the contractor and responsible officials, failing which I will have to seek judicial intervention,” charged Munna.
When contacted MBMC’s executive engineer Deepak Khambit said, “All purchases have been executed in a transparent manner. The inflated prices which the corporator is referring to might be of the peak lockdown period when consumables were not available. Taxes and labour charges add up to the cost. However, if there are any anomalies we will take necessary action.”
It has also been alleged that huge manipulations were carried out in the manual attendance system of privately hired housekeeping and security staffers under the garb of deployment of extra workforce. What remains to be seen is whether the civic chief probes an order and takes the issue to a logical end or remains a mute spectator to the alleged illegalities.
This comes at a time when the civic administration prides itself on having kept the spread of Covid-19 under control.