The Congress on Friday alleged a major road scam worth thousands of crores of rupees in the proposed 706-km-long Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, perpetrated at the level of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam said the request for qualification (RFQ) for constructing the expressway — named ‘Maharashtra Samruddhi Corridor’ (MSC) — linking the eastern and western parts of the state, was allegedly altered by Fadnavis at the last minute.
He said that when the RFQ was floated in March 2017, around 40 companies/consortiums came in and submitted their bids for the mega-project. “However, three conditions in the RFQ were altered barely 24 hours before the closing time directly by Fadnavis. This intended to remove or disqualify 35 companies from the bidding process. Only five companies that then qualified were finally left in the fray,” Nirupam claimed.
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“These five are the favoured ones, which will be awarded plum contracts worth nearly Rs 27,000 crore of the total project cost of nearly Rs 46,000 crore,” he alleged. He added that the associations and representative bodies of construction companies have even shot of complaints to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in this regard.
“It’s a massive scam and mind you, it has happened at the level of the Chief Minister, none above that and nobody less,” Nirupam told media persons, demanding to know why Fadnavis was keeping mum on the important issue. He also said that the expressway was facing huge resistance from the farmers whose 20,000 hectares of lands are being acquired for the project.
A few months ago, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the nodal agency for the project, had invited the RFQs for the project.
Of the total estimated cost of the project, the civil works for which the tenders were invited is pegged at around Rs 27,650 crore, the remaining Rs 13,000 crore for land acquisition and land pooling, Rs 2,500 crore for development of nodes and Rs 500 crore for shifting utilities.
The MSC is billed as a ‘super-communication expressway’ connecting Mumbai-Nagpur, zipping through 10 districts, 27 sub-districts and 385 villages to form the East-West Axis for the entire state.
Scheduled for completion by 2019, the MSC is expected to slash the current travel time between state capital Mumbai and second capital Nagpur from the existing 16 hours to barely half this time.
The districts which will be connected by the MSC include Nagpur, Wardha, Buldhana, Amravati, Akola, Aurangabad, Washim, Nashik, Thane and Mumbai.