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CAG slams Navi Mumbai infra body for major deficiencies, poor planning under CM Fadnavis

CAG reports states CIDCO, which fell under former CM Fadnavis, did not plan its projects properly. Congress calls for Fadnavis’ resignation as leader of opposition.  

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Mumbai: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has taken to task the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Limited (CIDCO) for “inadequate planning for the execution of individual projects”. 

This report for 2019 on the infrastructure development in Navi Mumbai, a part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, censures CIDCO for lack of synchronisation in various activities. It was tabled in the state assembly Wednesday.

CIDCO is part of the Urban Development Department — a portfolio that was held by then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, until he relinquished office ahead of the 2019 Assembly polls in the state. 

CIDCO is a company wholly owned by the Maharashtra government and which primarily takes up development work and provides social and physical infrastructure mainly in Navi Mumbai and its adjoining areas.        

The major projects undertaken by CIDCO were the Navi Mumbai Metro rail, Neral-Uran Railway and the Mass Housing Scheme at Kharghar. 

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CIDCO did not plan its infrastructure work: CAG

The CAG report states that the infrastructure work carried out by CIDCO did not emerge out of a systematic and comprehensive plan.

“CIDCO did not prepare any long, medium or short-term plans for the infrastructure works with the result being the proposals for infrastructure works were sanctioned on a case-to-case basis,” the report states. 

The CAG has pointed out numerous deficiencies in the awarding of works pertaining to the three major projects and other developmental works. 

Advertisements for global tenders were not placed in international newspapers for the Navi Mumbai Metro Rail and the Navi Mumbai International Airport projects, it said.  

Due to the lack of internal controlling and monitoring there has been various instances of delay in the execution of infrastructure works, says the report. One of the instances in focus is the non-utilisation of the coastal road built in June 2012 at the cost of Rs 50.94 crore — for over six years as the construction of precast arch bridges on holding ponds were not done. This construction was only completed in January 2019. 

CIDCO did not recover liquidated damages from the consultants of the Navi Mumbai Metro Rail and the Neral-Uran Railway projects as the project was delayed at their end, the CAG has found.  

The audit also revealed that CIDCO allegedly did not maintain any database on the existing infrastructure as well as the future infrastructure work to be taken up to facilitate systematic and objective planning.  

The audit observed that there were several alleged discrepancies in the issuance of tender notices in newspapers. The reports claims that undue favours were extended to the contractors by making them eligible to fit the laid down criteria for awarding of contracts. 

In the Mass Housing Scheme at Kharghar, CIDCO had failed to do periodic reviews of unsold tenements and shops valued at Rs 634.08 crore, thereby defeating the intended objective of providing affordable housing facilities, the report adds. 

The CAG has strongly recommended that CIDCO has to ensure proper planning, proper survey, feasibility study and the preparation of realistic estimates prior to the tendering of the works. 

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Congress, NCP want Fadnavis to resign

In 2019, then opposition parties Congress and NCP had alleged corruption in CIDCO. Fadnavis, who was the chief minister during the audit period of CIDCO and held the Urban Development Department, is now the leader of the opposition in the Legislative Assembly.

Speaking to ThePrint, Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant demanded Fadnavis’ resignation as the leader of the opposition.

“There has been a gross violation of the norms by CIDCO. The tenders have been a major revenue grosser for the CMO (chief minister’s office) and the earlier CMO was completely involved and managed the tendering process,” Sawant said. “Only a select few contractors enjoyed the benefits of CIDCO tenders.”    

Sawant further pointed out that at the very onset when the new CIDCO chairman was appointed by the then government, the Congress had alleged a conflict of interest.

“The chairman was actually a contractor of CIDCO whose company was implementing projects for CIDCO. How could the CMO take such a decision ignoring a conflict of interest?” Sawant said.   

Speaking to the media, however, Fadnavis said that if the Uddhav Thackeray-led government wanted to probe the findings of CAG report it should do so. 

“Let there be a probe. The truth will be out,” Fadnavis said late Wednesday.  

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  1. For me, the failure to deliver the Navi Mumbai airport during a complete five year term was a reality check, against the fabled War Room and many other hagiographic reports put out by what came to be known as Lashkar e Devendra.

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