There has always been a jinx that has plagued the NMMC HQ project. Right when the corporation had planned its first HQ project until it decided to construct it at the present site in Belapur, the failure to execute the project smoothly is often associated with some sort of a jinx. Even this time, when the work was being done at a fast pace, the reports of poor quality of sand and then non-availability of sand had halted the project. NMMC City Engineer Mohan Dagaonkar confirm the work has resumed but there is no denying that the jinx is back to haunt the project. Just when all looked well for the NMMC HQ project and it was felt that the jinx surrounding the project since its inception was over; the work at the site came to a grinding halt. Unfortunately, the halt was not for a month or two but for six months in a go, which has delayed the project much more than could have been anticipated. Now, there are two stories that have been reported for the sudden halt of work at the construction site. The story that NMMC administration has given on record is that the decision of the High Court that ordered a blanket ban on sand mining, which led to severe sand shortage bringing work to a halt. However, there is another story that insiders and reliable sources are telling. According to them, the contractor was asked by the administration to stop the work much before the High Court order on sand mining came about because the contractor was using sub standard and poor quality sand in the project. Knowing the grave consequences of this, when the issue came to light, the contractor was asked to stop the work at the site. It may be recalled that the contractor in question is Ashwini Infra Development Pvt. Ltd. who has been awarded the project at a cost of Rs. 90 Crore. Evidently, the NMMC denies these accusations and allegations on the contractor. At the NMMC HQ, City Engineer Mohan Dagaonkar informed NMTV News that work on the site has resumed after the ban on sand mining was lifted recently. According to the Chief City Engineer, 60% of the work on the NMMC HQ structure has been completed. However, considering the unexpected 6 months delay, the deadline of the completion of the project has been extended to January 2012, which the NMMC administration is hoping against hope to meet. When we brought up the allegations of the contractor using sub standard and poor quality sand and this being the reason for halting the work at the site, the Chief City Engineer Mohan Dagaonkar outright refuted these allegations and went on to express satisfaction on the contractor’s work. Even though the NMMC administration is defending the contractor and is firm on its stance of the contractor not using sub standard construction material, it is a well known fact that often to increase the profit margins compromises are made on the quality of construction. Now one can only hope that the contractor Ashwini Infra Development Pvt. Ltd. isn’t deploying such methods to earn profits as is being alleged and the NMMC is inspecting and supervising the work. More so because tomorrow it will be lakhs of tax paying citizens who will be frequently visiting the NMMC HQ for availing municipal services and it will be these citizens and the texes that they pay, that NMMC is accountable for. With bureau inputs, Monika Bhosale for NMTV News.
March 29, 2008