MMRDA may lose power to award contracts news
10 December 2010

Eight years after the Maharashtra government empowered the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) with rights to execute infrastructure projects - till then the domain of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Council - the civic general body has passed a resolution to rescind these powers.

A notice of motion moved by Shiv Sena corporator Rahul Shewale was unanimously approved by the BMC's general body early this month, and has been sent to the municipal commissioner for his remarks before it is submitted to the state government.

The development comes even as a public interest litigation was filed in the Bombay high court by social activist Raj Awasthi seeking the withdrawal of the MMRDA's special powers.

"The amendment made by the state government is in direct conflict with the rights guaranteed by the constitution to the local authority," said Shewale's notice of motion.

In 2002, the government had amended the MMRDA Act (Section 17), bestowing the state agency commissioner with the BMC chief's power to conduct crucial civic works. Till then, the MMRDA used to be restricted to being only a planning body. With the new powers, the agency could invite tenders and award multi-crore infrastructure projects.

However, this led to frequent tussles between the two agencies that kept passing the buck on to each other when it came to projects such as widening and improvement of roads and storm-water drains. The 26 July 2005 deluge in Mumbai was a flashpoint, when the BMC accused the MMRDA of destroying the drains and their connectivity. However, the MMRDA was considered the "big brother" as none less than the state chief minister is its chairperson.

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MMRDA may lose power to award contracts