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Special team to probe solid waste projects

Hindustan Times, Mumbai, 4th April, 2013

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday said a Special Investigation Team (SIT) would be formed to investigate controversial solid waste management projects at Deonar, Mulund and Kanjurmarg, which are being implemented by the civic body through private firms.

Chavan made this announcement while responding to Congress legislator Baba Siddiqui during a discussion on budgetary allocation for the urban development department, after Siddiqui alleged that the dumping ground scam was in the range of Rs. 9,000 crore and that a former committee set to probe the project tenders had noted irregularities in the bid process.

“A SIT of senior government officials will be set up to probe this as it has come to light that project developers might not have met the criteria and that there were irregularities. We will have to work out a new policy for solid waste management,” Chavan said.

Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) decided to set up integrated solid waste management treatment and disposal plants for Mumbai and issued three tenders for Deonar, Mulund and Kanjurmarg. The bidding process and selection of developers were mired in controversy, especially in the case of Deonar. Irregularities include non-eligibility of consultant and handing out a tender at three times higher the cost than expected, among other things.

“The committee found several lacunae, but it did not have proper terms of reference and did not fix responsibility. We want the SIT to do that,” Siddiqui said.

He alleged that a tipping fee for processing and land filling was granted to the developer despite a semi-government outfit offering to do the same without charging the tipping fee. This fee was nearly Rs. 3,000 crore in Deonar, while in Kanjurmarg, it was Rs. 1,400 crore.