The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in the BMC on Wednesday have demanded for a white paper on total expenditure and fund sanctions did towards expenditure on Covid-19 and related work by the civic body.
The BJP leaders said that despite seeking details time and again from the administration, they have failed to submit details of such contracts with the standing committee within the stipulated time.
The demand was raised during the standing committee meeting on Wednesday
In January this year, BJP had written to the BMC municipal secretary to allow the party leaders to move a resolution to revoke all special financial powers granted to municipal commissioner, additional municipal commissioners, and assistant municipal commissioners, to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the then municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi had empowered certain officers to make financial decisions for the city for the period of the Act being in place.
The BJP said that after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the financial powers of the commissioner, the mayor, and other officials were increased to execute various projects related to Covid-19. For commissioner and mayor, it was Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore, and at Deputy Municipal Commissioner-level, it was between Rs 1 crore to Rs 5 crore.
In the standing committee meeting, which was convened for the first time after a lockdown in October, corporators demanded that the BMC should restore their powers to approve tenders related to Covid-19 expenditure.
The BJP leaders throughout the pandemic have been alleging corruption and biased decisions in contracts awarded by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) by using sections 69 (c) and 72 (3) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, 1888.
Section 69 and 72 of the MMC Act, 1888 empowers the municipal commissioner and the mayor to award contracts worth Rs 5 lakh to Rs 75 lakh without inviting tenders.
"As per the provision of the act, the Standing Committee should be informed about all such contracts within 15 days of them being awarded. Which was never done. Since the pandemic hit the city, to date there is no detailed data available to us on how much funds have been spent, how and by which department. Hence we have sought a white paper, with all the details which department, when and how spent funds for Covid-19 and related work. If there are no discrepancies, BMC should promptly come out with a white paper," said Vinod Mishra, BJP corporator from Malad and standing committee member.