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Utility firms will have to relay roads after digging [Mumbai] [Times of India]
[February 13, 2013]

Utility firms will have to relay roads after digging [Mumbai] [Times of India]

(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MUMBAI: At a time when frequent digging and trenching plague most of the city's roads, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to ask utility companies to relay roads after they complete their work. What has outraged activists is the fact that the BMC has written off the guarantee period for the road relaying work undertaken by utility companies.

Till now, the BMC used to award road re-instatement contracts to private parties which had to stand guarantee for the work for three years.

The new decision, which will come into effect from April 1, essentially means that utility companies can get away with shoddy road work. In 2011, the state-appointed Standing Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) had observed that the city's roads were in bad condition because of frequent digging and trenching by utility companies.

While the BMC justified its decision, saying it was taken due to financial indiscipline by contractors, insiders said the move will result in poor quality of roads and has been taken to benefit a few underground utility companies.

According to the circular issued by the BMC in February, a utility company will have to deposit 115 % of the road reinstatement cost, calculated as per guidelines, with the BMC. Once the company completes relaying the road under the supervision of a civic engineer from the roads department, it will get back 100% of the reinstatement cost and the BMC will keep only 15% as supervision charge.

The BMC charges utility companies Rs 80 lakh for digging one-km of road. It used to charge them Rs 30 lakh for reinstatement work, which included a three-year guarantee period. The surplus amount was used by the BMC to remake roads in the long run.

"With the BMC just retaining 15% of the re-instatement cost, there won't be any surplus money. To make things worse, there is no guarantee period for the work done," said a source.

Samajwadi Party group leader Rais Shaikh said the circular was signed by the top brass of the BMC on the same day even as several important files on public welfare projects were lying unattended. "The BMC is doing this to favour a telecom giant, which will be soon undertaking a huge project to lay underground cables in the city," said Shaikh.

The BMC had allotted tenders two years, but in several wards the money has been exhausted in just few months and has wanted more money to undertake restoration the trenches, which the circular mentions as unsatisfactory financial discipline.

"The current tenders for reinstatement of trenches shall stand foreclosed from March 31,"said the circular.

(c) 2013 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited

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