A year after the Rs 150-crore de-silting scam, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has finally issued orders for blacklisting one of the 24 contractors found involved in the scam, which was unearthed in June 2015. The process of blacklisting contractors involved in the scam started in September 2015. Further, orders for blacklisting the other 23 are expected in the next few days, with the process being on and the BMC’s legal department still scrutinising papers submitted by the other contractors.
Contractors whose works missed the BMC's prescribed standards by a margin of 50 per cent have been blacklisted for seven years, while those who missed the mark by less than 50 per cent have been blacklisted for five years. What’s more, directors of the blacklisted companies have also been barred from carrying out any business with the municipal corporation. Other companies too, in which any of the blacklisted directors may have more than 51 per cent stake, will now not be allowed to have any association with the BMC.
The de-silting scam can be traced back to the 24 hours between June 18-19, 2015, when Mumbai experienced heavy showers, receiving 10 per cent of the rainfall required for the entire season in a day. With several localities being flooded, questions were raised over the de-silting work done prior to monsoon. This is when Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta set up a five-member team to probe the case. After all, the civic body had that year spent Rs150 crore on monsoon preparedness, but not just the low-lying areas, several other localities, not considered flood-prone, were also left water-logged. It is then that the committee found many claims of the contractors false, wherein these contractors inflated not only the number of trips made to the dump yard carrying silt from nullahs in the run-up to the 2015 rainy season, but fudging even the load they carried.
In September 2015, the BMC suspended 14 officials in the scam and filed an FIR against contractors. Now, after the formal blacklisting orders are issued, the BMC will have to submit a report to the high court with details of the procedure it followed in acting against the contractors.