As reported by Radheyshaym Jadhav of TNN of on 30 April 2008:
Big spend, bigger corruption-Pune-Cities-The Times of India

Big spend, bigger corruption

PUNE: In the absence of a proper system of checks and balances, corruption has firmly gripped the funding of civic projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). An embarrassed state government, while maintaining that audits were being conducted at the local level, has asked citizens to wield the Right to Information (RTI) Act to stem the corruption!

Tenders worth crores of rupees are being floated for various works under the JNNURM and the civic corridors are teeming with contractors attempting to corner a piece of the funding pie.

Last week, a road work tender worth Rs 42 crore was tabled and passed clandestinely by the Pune Municipal Corporation standing committee. It was ensured that the media did not even get a glimpse of the proposal.

Not surprisingly, the estimated cost of the JNNURM works has swelled from the initial Rs 807 crore to Rs 1,462 crore now.

Interestingly, the tenders floated for the road works under the JNNURM have some strange conditions — which read more like an open demand for kickbacks — that contractors should provide the PMC's engineers and consultants with things like Tavera cars, laptops, tea-cups, laptops, water purifiers and chairs! The PMC officials have, however, defended this clause, saying that the spending on these items was not even one per cent of the total expenditure. In fact, Vinay Deshpande, head of the PMC's JNNURM cell, told the general body meeting last week that these items were being provided to the officials "to complete works in time and ensure quality".

Commenting on this, a contractor who requested anonymity said, "Now it is an open secret that not a single tender in the municipal corporation is passed without paying kickbacks. There should be some checks on those who approve tenders and those who move files from table to table."

The contractor pointed out that with this clause of providing "gifts" to the engineers and consultants, contractors will lower their quality of work to cover their losses.

Politicians are obviously tight-lipped on the issue. "There is corruption in every walk of life and the local governing bodies are no exception. Funds for party work flows from the municipal corporation. We need money to function," admitted one corporator.

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