Is this desirable: Politician bids for BMC's waste management contract
Abu Azmi's bid for Rs 174-cr BMC contract slammed
Politicians and activists have criticised the Samajwadi Party MLA for vying
for the waste management project, saying this is an instance of conflict of
January 01, 2013
Trash is cash - Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has invited bids
for a waste management project worth Rs 174 crore. But the profile of one of
the contenders has raised hackles.
A firm owned by Abu Asim Azmi, MLA and state president of Samajwadi Party,
has participated in the bid in collaboration with two companies. The
contract is for picking up and transporting garbage to the dumping ground by
compactors, mini-compactors and small closed vehicles. The contract is for
the period of four years from July 2013 to 2017. The bid has been invited to
allot the assignment for the stretches of Bandra (E) to Jogeshwari (E) and
west side of Vile Parle to Jogeshwari.
A number of reports on nexus between civic officials, politicians and
contractors are in the public domain. The bid by Azmi's firm has muddled
matters for BMC whose officials have raised doubts about a politician's firm
being able to ensure quality of work and have asked whether the civic body
would be able to penalise the firm if it does a shoddy job. The civic body,
in fact, has even sought legal opinion on the issue. "We replied to the
solid waste management (SWM) department that there is no law that bars an
MLA from taking part in the bidding process," said sources from BMC's legal
department, on the condition of anonymity.
While the department estimated Rs 174 crore for the work, a joint venture of
MK Enterprises, Global Waste Management Cell Pvt Ltd and Gulf Hotel quoted
Rs 168 crore, which is the lowest price. Gulf Hotel belongs to Abu Azmi (MiD
DAY has a copy of the joint-venture agreement).
A top civic official said that while a politician's firm getting a contract
is not illegal, it could cause problems in the future. "Who would dare
question or take action against an MLA's firm. Tomorrow if a civic official
would initiate steps then the politician could pressurise the corporation or
the administration to cut the official down to size. What's worse, this
could lead to opening of floodgates, and all politicians beginning to bid
for contracts," he said.
Despite repeated attempts by MiD DAY, municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte
was not available for comment.
MLA salary not enough: Azmi
"Though I am a MLA, I have a right to do business as our salary is not
sufficient to meet all expenses. I don't know about others, but I am doing
everything within the framework of the law," Azmi told MiD DAY. The joint
venture has quoted Rs 168 crore against the estimated cost of Rs 174 crore.
When asked about the presumptive Rs 6-crore loss, Azmi said, "As per our
estimates there would not be any loss."
Although legally he cannot be debarred from bidding, politicians should
maintain certain ethics. They or companies owned by them should not bid for
such government projects.
- DM Sukathankar, former municipal commissioner
This is not about Samajwadi Party. No MLA or MP should be allowed to partake
in local govt projects as a contractor. This would surely affect civic
services in the long term, as no official would able to take action against
a firm run by a politician.
- Dilip Lande, MNS leader in BMC
I don't think there would be a problem if politicians were to participate in
BMC work, but they should not use influence to gain favours.
- Nitai Mehta, managing trustee, Praja Foundation
It is a mystery how politicians across the board bag key contracts. Is it
that all the expertise is only with politicians in this country, or is it
that experts from every field engage in politics or with politicians to bag
contracts? Can't these projects be given to professionals for a change?
Citizens should object if the garbage contract goes to the MLA's firm."
- Anjali Damania, member, Aam Aadmi Party
This indicates vested interest. Rules should be amended to disallow
politicians from participating in BMC contracts.
- James John, coordinator, AGNI
Abu Azmi wins civic contract, raises eyebrowsSharvari Patwa : Tue Feb 19 2013, 02:47 hrs
In what could raise eyebrows, the civic statutory standing committee has given the go-ahead to awarding a solid waste management contract to a joint venture company backed and partly owned by Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi.
The tender was approved by all but Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) corporators. It's a joint venture of Gulf Hotel, MK Enterprises and Global Waste Management Cell and Azmi part-owns Gulf.
The tender for the five-year contract, which includes collection of garbage in the Bandra (East)-Jogeshwari zone, was floated in November last year. The city has been divided into eight zones for garbage collection.
Twelve companies bought tender applications, but only three bid. The JV firm comprising Gulf Hotel was the lowest bidder at Rs 168 crore as against the estimated tab of Rs 174 crore.
Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, said: "We have checked legality of the proposal. According to BMC rules, there is no prohibition on an MLA or MP taking part in a tender process."
Abu Azmi said: "There is nothing wrong if my company has won the contract. I also happen to be a businessman and openly bid for the contract. Many companies backed by ministers, MLAs, MPs are granted government contracts without public knowledge.
"The MLA salary I receive is not enough to meet the expense of being a politician and the social work my party takes up. Even elections need money. Being a businessman helps in achieving this goal."
There may be no prohibition on MPs and MLAs bidding for government contracts, but complaints against their companies can certainly be probed, a BMC law officer said.
Interestingly, municipal rules ban corporators from participating in tender processes. "A public representative should not take up a civic project on moral ground. This raises concern regarding ethical conduct. MLAs and MPs should keep business and political interests seperate," said MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande.
"Civic officials will not be confident probing complaints, if any, against these companies," he said.