Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has contradicted its own vigilance report and said that it had no compulsion in using advanced silt pusher machines for carrying out desilting work in Mumbai, ahead of the monsoon season.
Earlier this month, the civic vigilance department had initiated an investigation after the former leader of the opposition and Congress corporator, Ravi Raja lodged a complaint, alleging that the contracts for the work were given on the basis of using imported advanced machinery like Silt Pushers and Pontoon Excavators, these machines were not used for the said purpose in the eastern suburbs and island city.
Raja also alleged that contractors continued to use the conventional machines while billing the BMC based on the usage of imported machines.
Following the complaint, the vigilance department carried out an investigation and sought an explanation from the Storm Waters Department (SWD), asking them to provide exact quantities of silt removed by using pusher machines. The vigilance report also questioned why the civic body didn’t use this advanced machinery while carrying out desilting work in the eastern suburbs and western suburbs.
Earlier on June 18, HT had reported that the vigilance department had found irregularities in BMC’s desilting work. HT had accessed a copy of the vigilance report.
Meanwhile, by issuing a clarification statement, municipal commissioner, Iqbal Singh Chahal, said, “In both eastern and western suburbs, there is easy accessibility to desilt the nullahs by a conventional method, either from one side of the bank of the nullah, or, from both sides. In the suburbs, silt pusher machines were not used for major nullahs because there is no easy accessibility for lowering the machines and a lack of sufficient spaces in many places. Because of these reasons, the imported machines were not included in the tenders of eastern and western suburbs.”
Chahal’s statement also stated, “It is true that vigilance department has sought a report from the SWD department regarding not using advanced machines…, The SWD department has already submitted a clarification on June 8 and further clarifications on the need basis will be submitted,”
Chahal also said that so far, no payment has been made to the contractors for carrying out desilting work by using imported machinery. He also mentioned that the methodology of paying the bill for the quantity of silt removal by a conventional method as well as by silt pusher machines will be tallied against the record that is being maintained by assistant engineers.
The BMC in its annual budget in February had allotted ₹236 crores for desilting works of several major and minor nullahs of the city along with Mithi River.
“For the island city, the quantity of silt to be removed from major nallas is 60,284.97 MT which would cost ₹11.50 crore. Out of this, the maximum quantity allowed to be desilted by using advance equipment’s is only 20,029.97 MT, which would cost ₹4.74 crore,” said BMC’s statement.
“Similarly, for Mithi river, the quantity of sludge to be desilted is 2,20,000 MT, which would cost around ₹42 crore. Out of this, the maximum quantity allowed to be desilted by using silt pusher is 1,53,452 MT and by Truxor machines is 21,437 MT. This is the highest limit, the contractor can use these machines for desilting, as the contractors can also use conventional methods to desilt in Mithi river as well,” said Chahal in his statement.
BMC has neither purchased these imported machines nor leased out these machines for desilting. As a measure to promote new engineering methods to desilting, the imported machines like Silt pusher and Truxor were allowed only in some quantities and only in city area and Mithi River on a pilot basis.
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