Swiss firm to check quality of repaired potholes

IIT Bombay opts out citing exams

The BMC roads department has appointed Swiss firm SGS Consultancy to audit 20 per cent of the reported and repaired potholes in the city.

At the rate of Rs 775 each, plus service tax, 5,000 potholes of the reported 25,000 will be reopened for a quality check. A team of five, including two roads department employees, will be assigned the task in each ward.

After repeated failed efforts to rope in engineering institutes such as IIT Bombay or VJTI for the job, the corporation has settled for SGS.

The audit was decided following allegations that the potholes were repaired using substandard material.

The exercise was to begin in the first week of October after monsoon but is now likely to start at month-end.

"We have finalised SGS as IIT cannot do the job. The students will soon have exams. VJTI was anyway unlikely to conduct the check. Work should start before next month and the audit will take 45 days," said chief engineer of the roads department G Aggarwal.

He said, "These institutes (IIT, VJTI) have a manpower problem. Also, they would have tested the refilling material in labs, whereas we require on-the-spot testing as potholes are apread across the 24 wards."

"We had set aside part of the budget to check the success of the cold mix technology," he said.

Earlier this year, a PIL filed in Bombay High Court by former corporator Niyaz Ahmed Vanu had accused BMC of granting the Rs 6.78-crore contract to SGS without inviting bids.

However, HC refused an interim stay on the deal in February saying, "Such an order, if passed, may thwart the intention of BMC to appoint an authority to assess its own performance and would go against public interest."

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