BMC dilemma holds up road projects

To award contract to blacklisted company or not?

Major road repairs in south Mumbai have been put on hold as BMC deliberates if it should award the work to a contractor under scanner for poor quality.

RPS Infraprojects (formerly RP Shah), a company blacklisted by the building proposal department in 2010, has submitted the lowest bid for a basket of projects estimated to cost Rs 275 crore. It has bid with Prakash Engineering and Supreme Infra.

The contract is part of a Rs 530-crore bouquet of road repair and construction projects in south Mumbai. It entails concretising and asphalting over 65 km of roads in Churchgate, Fort, Marine Drive, Dadar, Worli and other areas.

About 129 roads in south Mumbai would be re-laid, including 27 major ones that will be concretised and 102 small and arterial ones that will be asphalted. The projects were to be awarded last year after a standard tendering procedure.

The process, which included a final scrutiny of the lowest bidders, was completed earlier this month but the projects are yet to be awarded.

BMC is seeking legal opinion on whether a contractor blacklisted by one department can be allowed to take up work tendered by other departments.RPS Infraprojects was blacklisted for poor quality work in a school building and served a show-cause notice for hiding information while bidding for road projects in 2011.

Rahul Shewale, standing committee chairman and Shiv Sena corporator, said, "Typically, once the tender committee completes scrutiny, there is no reason to delay the allotment process. However, BMC is re-thinking whether road contracts can be awarded to a contractor blacklisted for some other work."

BJP MLC Ashish Shelar said, "The delay in allotting contracts raises suspicion. If a certain contractor is found to be not good to carry out road works and has been downgraded by a separate department, why is the company not being blacklisted altogether? Why did the administration even accept its tender?"

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