Published On : Tue, Sep 1st, 2020

NMC’s flip-flop on divulging RTI info on cement roads raises many eyebrows

Nagpur: The nasty affairs being run in Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) continue grab headlines unabatedly. For instant, when the proposal for construction of cement road was given to NMC, none of the contractors then registered with the civic body had experience of undertaking such construction work. But even then the contract was awarded to one such contractor.

This speaks volumes of the fact that rules of the department were tweaked to pave the way for the concerned contractor to take up the project. As a result, wherever the construction of the road took place, people experienced difficulties. Far from addressing these grievances, the NMC officials are in fact trying to shield the concerned company. Hence it is vitally essential for new NMC Commissioner Radhakrishnan B to work on these issues and take action against the concerned corrupt officials so that the quality of work improves.

In order to obtain the contract for cement road construction, the registered contractor of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation had undertaken a ‘joint venture’ with an experienced contractor. As per the rules, upon undertaking a joint venture, a PAN card is must and as per an agreement, a Joint Venture account is also opened. In this account, payment is made from the NMC’s Finance Department, all formalities concerning the works like post-work checks, quality checks etc are completed.

On the other hand, that a company not having much experience of such type of construction work and based outside the city getting an NMC contract through the ‘blessing’ of ruling party in the civic body is also a matter worth investigating. But in Phase-II of cement concrete road project, it was found that the contractor company registered with the NMC did not follow norms and in fact flouted many of them. The work was obtained under a ‘Joint Venture’ but the payment was made in the account of the company itself.

As soon as the investigation of the matter started, the concerned sub-engineer and the entire department started to maintain secrecy regarding the issue. An RTI activist tried to obtain information about the issue for a duration of one entire month, but even then information was not divulged. On the contrary, the confidence with which the concerned officials refuted the activist and asked him to complain wherever he thought appropriate, speaks volumes of the fact that these officials have the tacit support of higher ups in the NMC.

Such type of dilly-dallying is quite common in the Public Works Department. The file of someone who does not give ‘commission’ goes to the concerned department of the NMC, so that pressure is exerted on the concerned party. Files of the company who are willing to ‘negotiate’ are sent directly to the Finance Department for obtaining ‘commission’. The Public Works Department should be basically carrying out a phase wise analysis of the work done. The NMC’s concerned department must carry out post work checks and if the quality of the work is found to be satisfactory, then, ‘completion certificate’ is issued. After this process, payments are made at the Finance Department. But in practice this rarely occurs as it will deprive the PWD of their share in the commission.

The new NMC Commissioner is expected to examine and review the functioning of these departments and correct the wrong. All the officials who have not behaved in the interest of the city while serving in the concerned department for years, should be transferred elsewhere, otherwise the above mentioned irregularities will continue to occur and NMC’s work quality and public image will continue to suffer.