BMC blacklists Magsaysay laureate’s slum NGO (Lead, Correcting dateline)

Mumbai, Nov 21 (IANS) The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has blacklisted an NGO connected with well-known global slumdwellers’ activist and Magsaysay laureate Jockin Arputham, an RTI query has revealed.

RTI activist Anil Galgali said the NGO, Spark, and its contractor have been blacklisted since February followed by cancellation of its registration.

The BMC has also retained the earnest money of Rs 2.60 million and slapped an additional penalty of Rs 2.40 million on the NGO, and has debarred it from getting any new contracts for the next five years.

“The reasons cited for blacklisting the NGO and other actions are incomplete toilet repairs during the defects liability period, poor quality and slow pace of work and overshooting completion deadlines,” Galgali told IANS.

Arputham, 70, claimed the BMC action was “a deliberate and selective targeting” of his NGO’s work by certain vested elements and external lobbies of contractors.

“Years ago, when the BMC floated tenders for building and upkeep of toilets in slums for three years, they got no response. Finally, they approached us and virtually begged us to take up the work given our expertise in slum development works,” Arputham said.

Now, Arputham — former President of National Slumdwellers Federation — said there are some contractors’ lobbies which want to bag similar works, because of which certain civic officials have resorted to selectively targeting his NGO.

Galgali said according to the RTI reply, the NGO was awarded the work order on January 3, 2012, for a time period of 30 months and after a 12-month extension, its deadline expired on June 30, 2015.

During the total 42-month period, the NGO managed to complete construction work of only 20 toilet blocks and eight blocks are still under construction, he said.

“The bold step of the BMC must be praised. I have written to BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta suggesting work should be allotted at ward levels instead of a single NGO or contractor for effectively execution and timely completion,” Galgali added.

Honoured with the Magsaysay Award in 2000, Arputham said that through his NGO, they have constructed around 74 toilet blocks in Mumbai slums, benefiting lakhs of slumdwellers who earlier defecated in the open.

He said they would take up the matter of “selective targeting” of the NGO with the BMC authorities.