Seven of nine tainted firms in for new contracts
By Chaitanya Marpakwar
Garbage transport contracts continue to raise a stink in the BMC. Close to six months after BMC filed police complaints against nine firms for mixing debris with garbage, the BMC has decided to blacklist only two of them while the others have been let off with meagre fines. To add insult to injury, those let off are likely to bag fresh tenders worth Rs 1,800 crore.
In September last year, unscrupulous garbage contractors had pulled a fast one on the BMC by transporting construction debris instead of solid waste. After realizing that it had been duped, the BMC registered police complaints against nine garbage contractors, and issued show cause notices. But six months later, the BMC has decided to blacklist only two of them
The reasoning provided by BMC is that only those against whom more than five instances of mixing debris with garbage were found would be blacklisted. “Among the nine, only two contractors fit the blacklisting criteria. We have issued a show cause notice to the two asking them why they must not be blacklisted. The others will be penalised,” said a senior civic official from BMC’s Solid Waste Management Department.
Last month, the civic standing committee had rejected a proposal to allot fresh contracts to tainted contractors and had asked the BMC to take action against them instead. “This is a clear case of connivance. We had demanded a SIT probe into the debris transport scam. It looks like there has been a deliberate delay to favour the contractors,” alleged Congress legislator Aslam Shaikh. In July this year, Shaikh had written to civic chief Ajoy Mehta, saying that he had found that trucks carrying garbage from different parts of the city submitted documents that said that the vehicles weighed exactly the same on different dates at various BMC-certified weighing scales.
Last month, the BMC had hinted that it may re-tender its Rs 1,800-crore garbage collection-transportation contract for the third time, as most of those who participated in the second round were tainted.
“But it has now come to light that only two tainted contractors are being blacklisted and all others are bagging fresh contracts. In fact, they are being rewarded now. The entire exercise of issuing those notices and filing police complaints against them was a farce. Not one of the BMC complaints has resulted in any police action,” said Congress corporator Ravi Raja.
The SWM department moved a proposal to allot fresh contracts to tainted contractors but the proposal was deferred by the civic standing committee on Wednesday.
Around 7,100 tonnes of garbage is collected and transported by BMC and contractors daily.
Vijay Singhal, Additional Municipal Commissioner in-charge of Solid Waste Management, confirmed that two contractors were facing blacklisting. “We have issued notices to two of them and they have been barred from taking part in the new tenders. From the moment we issued them notices, we are treating them as nonresponsive. We have imposed a heavy penalty on the others as per the tender conditions,” Singhal said.
BMC officials said that according to the tender conditions only those contractors who were caught mixing debris with garbage more than five times could be blacklisted while others would be fined Rs 10,000 for every such instance. Apart from the two who will be blacklisted, officials said that two more contractors would face heavy penalty since they were also caught mixing debris more than five times but they didn’t submit inflated bills including the weight of the debris.
Co. linked to blacklisted firm gets Rs 7 cr contract
By Tanvi Deshpande
A firm with links to a blacklisted company is set to bag a Rs 7-crore contract for waste management. This, despite the BMC’s own legal department warning against it.
The BMC had invited bids for the Gorai Refuge Transport Station in November last year. The station handles around 300 metric tonnes of waste from all of Western suburbs before it is taken to one of the three big dumping grounds. The previous contract got over in October and the civic body invited bids for the management of the station. One of the bidders was Kaviraj MBB waste management Ltd, a company with links to Kaviraj Infratech, which was blacklisted in the nullah-desilting scam. As Kaviraj MBB emerged the lowest bidder, a proposal was tabled before the standing committee to allot the contract to them. However, there was much uproar in the Committee, following which the proposal was rejected unanimously in November.
The BMC has now brought the same proposal back, albeit after much back and forth and a legal opinion.
The law officer in the civic body’s own legal department gave a negative opinion saying that if a company is blacklisted, the same applies to its partner companies and affiliates as well.
However, the BMC then consulted its senior counsel Anil Sakhare, who said that the two companies are entirely separate entities and therefore, while Kaviraj Infratech may be blacklisted, Kaviraj MBB Waste management Ltd could bid, as it has nothing to do with it.
The matter was discussed at the highest level in the BMC and it was decided to allow Kaviraj MBB to bid. Since it is the lowest bidder, it is all set to bag the contract for a period of two years, merely two months after the whole proposal was rejected.
Minority shareholders from Kaviraj Infratech are majority shareholders in Kaviraj MBB Waste management Ltd. BMC’s law officer had claimed that General Contract Conditions of 1992 state that if one company gets deregistered, it’s (unregistered) affiliated company also cannot bids for contracts.
But the same rules also say that blacklisting is applicable only to the director, executive director and authorised signatory. The blacklisting order clearly names them. Since those are not directors in Kaviraj MBB and only minority shareholders, therefore BMC is not holding Kaviraj MBB as blacklisted.
“The administration has relied on the fact that the shareholders are not responsible for what is done by the Director. But we demand that those shareholders who have a larger role to play in a company should also be investigated. We want a discussion,” said BJP leader Manoj Kotak. SP leader Rais Shaikh said that they will demand an explanation from the administration. Leader of opposition Ravi Raja said he needed time to study the matter.
But shedding light on the issue, Additional Municipal Commissioner Vijay Singhal said, “The blacklisting order is very clear about who have been blacklisted. The names are mentioned. The same people are not directors in this company. That is why, after detailed discussion, we arrived at this decision.”