The special room assigned to the Contractors Association in Nagpur Municipal Corporation has allegedly become the ‘fixing den’ for the contractors who are the part of so called ‘ring’ deliberately formed to quote the rates through ‘mutual understanding’ and grab the tender at their price. The room has been at the helm of controversy as all contractors reportedly quote the rates from this single point. Sources doubted the procedure to be fair as the rates are quoted amidst the cluster of contractors vying for the same tender. Moreover, the contractors are reportedly using the facilities provided in the room free of cost, sources added. In addition to it, there has been gross manipulation of the passwords meant to check the rate quotes online, thus killing the prospects of fair tender practice. Sources informed that the sensitive information regarding tenders is protected through passwords which are handled by inefficient and non-reliable workers.
It is alleged that if details regarding IP addresses of the computers from which e-tenders were filed, are dug, then a majority of these would direct towards the systems installed in this room. The tender details of outside contractors are peeped into through hired passwords and then suitable price quotes are filled in mutual consent from this room. Sources indicated the murky affairs of tender fixing and filing e-tenders from this room has been going on for over considerable period of time. If surprise check on this room is conducted then picture would get clearer to the NMC officials, sources claimed. “If the IP addresses of e-tenders filed recently are examined closely then there are chances that some of them may have been filed from the systems having similar IP addresses of systems in this room
When Nagpur Today brought this practice to the knowledge of Acting Municipal Commissioner Praveen Darade, he said that he was unaware of what all is happening in NMC as that he has just taken charge on behalf of NMC Commissioner Shyam Wardhane who is currently on medical leave for two weeks. “I am not a magician who should know everything in day. I will have to look into the matter and then I can comment anything on this.”
Additional Municipal Commissioner Hemant Pawar said that this is for the first time that such information has come to his knowledge and he will inquire further about the allotment of room to the contractors and the facilities they have been using.
Sources revealed that the said room was earlier allotted to registered contractors when former NMC Commissioner Lokesh Chandra headed the office, but the room was locked following the mutual conflict among authorized and unauthorized contractors. It was apprehended that the room could be misused following the contractors’ rift.
An year later, NMC contractor Vijay Naidu was elevated as the president of NMC Contractors Association and owing to the pressure reportedly from the ruling party office bearers, present NMC Commissioner Shyam Wardhane got the room opened. Electricity and internet connection were made available to this room free of charge. Sources insisted that since the contractors gather here for their commercial benefit, due charges should be levied for the facilities being provided to them instead of directing the expenses to civic body exchequer.
At present, Naidu has got three computer systems along with internet connection installed in this room. Sources alleged that the contractors gathering in this room forms the ring by quoting the rates with mutual consent and the successful bidder is decided even before the tenders are officially opened. This has been causing huge dent in NMC’s treasure for quite long time.
Reliable sources informed that the process of e-tendering was introduced to get the impartial and fair quotes from the contractors bidding for the work. Sources opined that the contractors operating from single room cannot guarantee any ethical practice in the procedure.
It is learnt the information protected through passwords have become accessible to all as the persons handling the passwords allegedly passed on the information to the prospective contractor. Then shares of the kickback so obtained are mutually divided among the people playing their parts, alleged an insider.
Ruling Party Leader in NMC Praveen Datke was taken aback when the information was brought to his knowledge. “I will escalate this issue to Mayor Anil Sole and if such ring information is being done among the contractors in that room then the tenders should be called off and inquiry should be conducted into this. I will get the information about the status of the room which has been allotted and also inquire who is paying for facilities like electricity and internet. Such malpractice causing huge losses to NMC should be stopped at once. A detailed inquiry is required to be conducted into the matter,” Datke told Nagpur Today.
– RAJEEV RANJAN KUSHWAHA (firstname.lastname@example.org )