MSRDC collected toll for 10 years without cash flow statements from contractors!
Believe it or not, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corp (MSRDC) actually states in black and white that it is conducting transaction surveys to finalise the foreclosure of concessionaire claims. So, for 10 years they collected toll with no cash flow statements.
Pune-based Right to Information (RTI) activist Sanjay Shirodkar, promptly sent a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, questioning the call for e-tenders, once again, for the same work. The state Chief Secretary had forwarded Shirodkar’s letter to the concerned department, that is, the MSRDC, to provide explanation.
In his reply, V Suresh Babu, Executive Engineer, MSRDC, actually admits that video graphic and transaction survey is necessary for the road over bridge (ROB) on Peth-Sangli-Miraj state highway, hold your breath, “to finalize the foreclosure of concessionaire claims.” He further says, “This survey is to be conducted as per the directives of PWD, Government of Maharashtra.” It is pertinent to note here that toll was collected for a good 10 years and after citizens’ protests, which also involved legal intervention, the toll on this 8km ROB has been stopped.
So, what was MSRDC or the Public Works Department (PWD) was doing for three long years when collection was nil? More importantly, can there be a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in a public-private-partnership (PPP) model where the private operator can get away by collecting toll, without giving cash flow statements, which comprises entire financials regarding expenditure by the contractor, the MSRDC, the cost of maintenance of the stretch of road, and the predicted profits in a particular time frame?’’ “It is totally illegal,’’’ says Shirodkar, “and reeks of complete mismanagement of money collected from the public.”
• The above was in reply to his question: “Why should there be a toll count once again when the toll plaza of Peth-Sangli-Miraj-Mhaisal SH 138 @ 8km. 56/420, was closed after residents protested and there was a court order?’’
The second question that he posed was regarding the repetition of the viedographic traffic survey for all the five entry points of Mumbai, when a similar exercise has been conducted two years back by the CP Joshi Committee. This report is not being made public, instead, another one is ordered. Why is this report, being kept a secret?
The reply by Suresh Babu to Shirodkar, states, “You are aware that the report was submitted to government. The decision process is still in progress. As such, the government has jurisdiction in this regard.”
Shirodkar says, “If the MSRDC itself states that the report is with the government , then why is it not taking action on that report, which I know, has the entire details of the financials of each and every toll plaza in Maharashtra? It may be noted that a video-graphic traffic survey is so large that it comprises 30 toll booths (TBs) and that is a whopping amount of public money which has already been spent, once.”
Indeed, it is all about allegedly saving the contractor’s skin!
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.