Chahal rebuts Aditya Thackeray's allegations, says companies refused to work at old rates after price rise
Geetanjali Minhas | May 12, 2023 | Mumbai
Issuing a detailed statement, in a point-by-point rebuttal, BMC commissioner and administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal has said that projects undertaken by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation are executed in line with the concerned rules and regulations, without any misconduct or irregularities in the bidding process.
On Wednesday, Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Aditya Thackeray met Governor Ramesh Bais and demanded the Lokayukta investigate Chahal and alleged irregularities in the works and tenders of the BMC. Thackeray has alleged a scam of Rs 6,000 crore in road repair works.
Chahal in his statement said that despite consistently and earnestly adhering to the prescribed procedures and regulations mandated by the government, concerns and questions are being raised regarding the administration’s work system and mechanisms. The BMC administration has proactively and consistently responded to the questions and concerns raised regarding both the bidding process as well the projects in themselves through various platforms and mediums.
“The municipal administration reiterates that BMC is doing every work according to the rules and following procedures in administrative regime and addressing all questions, concerns raised by citizens and representatives in a transparent and professional manner, always,” he noted.
The statement says that detailed clarifications have been issued through newspapers published on 13 January 2023, 16 January 2023 and 18 January 2023. Additionally, questions raised by citizen representatives and activists have been answered by the administration through letters in April 2023.
It says the municipal corporation invited a large-scale bid for the cement concretisation of approximately 400 km of roads. Companies with necessary experience of working on national and state highways were eligible to submit a response to the bid. Bidders were expected to have the necessary equipment, human resources, technical expertise, and experience of working on national and state highways. In order to achieve this, joint venture approach was not allowed.
During the previous tender invitation, the work was to be carried out according to the Unified Schedule of Rates - 2018. Considering the cost rise during 2018 to November 2022, the prices of various items were revised. Large companies refused to work at old rates due to significant rise in market rates. Therefore, the existing rates have been revised to reflect current market rates and several new and stringent standards have been included in the new tender to focus on road quality. Additionally, usage of utility ducts and pre-cast drains and such advance technologies are also included in the tender. In this new tender, there is a strong focus on emphasising the quality of roads. Several new and stringent provisions have been included. If the appointed contractors fail to meet the construction deadlines, the technical personnel assigned by them will face severe penalties. During the execution of the project, they will be continuously monitored through CCTV cameras. Detailed information regarding all the roads' progress will be made available to the public, and QR codes will be published on barricades for easy scanning.
No contractor responsible for cement concrete work has stopped work due to a shortage of materials for two to three weeks. No issue regarding the increase in the rates of gravels by any contractor has been raised either. It should be noted that any violations of these new and strict provisions will result in severe penalties imposed on the respective contractors within the tender.
The statement says that street furniture tender process has been implemented under the online 'SAP' system as per the prevailing tender terms and conditions, so that there should be uniformity in various 19 departments of the BMC and coordination between various systems, detailed information has been provided.
As per the terms and conditions of the tender, the work of street furniture is under the road department, the experience of the road department was mentioned in the tender and accordingly the experience is as per the verification of the documents submitted by the tenderers. The tender process was conducted under 'SAP' system as per online e-tendering method. It was a three packet system tender process. Packet 'A' was opened on 22nd December 2022. Three tenders were received. One sample of each of the items mentioned in the tender was called for from each of the tenderers, with a view to ensure that the materials used for the street furniture are of good quality. Thereafter, packet 'B' was opened on 23 January 2023. This packet also passed the criteria. Packet 'C' was opened on 25th January 2023.
The estimated cost for the project was Rs. 263,43,36,000, but the first lowest tenderer had quoted Rs 276,50,70,000, which was 4.96% more than the estimated cost. As per the rules, negotiations were conducted, and the tender price was fixed with 0.01% less than the estimated cost, i.e., Rs.263,40,72,000. It's worth noting that some of the street furniture mentioned in the tender was already in operation through earlier tenders of the Roads Department, so the rates were included in the street furniture tender as per the rate schedule in that tender estimate of the Roads and Transport Department. All these works were supervised and executed by Deputy Chief Engineer (Traffic) for proper planning, supervision and quality work. Engineers of the Department of Roads and Traffic are well versed in implementing the 'Pedestrian First Policy'. The defect liability period of some of these items is ten years. Therefore, it was ensured that the quality of these items is of good quality.
“Entire process has been carried out impartially and transparently by BMC administration and all the rules and conditions related to the tender and work have been properly followed. Therefore, BMC is clarifying that there has been no irregularity or malpractice in the work of street furniture.”
Sanitary pad vending and incinerator machine
As per the survey conducted by the Solid Waste Management Department, it was determined that sanitary pad vending and incinerator machines will be installed in 5,000 out of the 8,173 public toilets. Accordingly, a three-packet e-tender, due on 31 January 2023, was invited for IoT (Internet of Things) and data analytics-based combo sanitary pad vending and incinerator machines by issuing a tender notice on the BMC website along with a public advertisement in newspapers. In response to that, three tenders have been received. After evaluation, the lowest successful bidder was issued a letter of acceptance on 20 February 2023 and the work is currently in progress.
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