Waste must not be transported uncovered, court tells BBMP
Should you find yourself driving behind a garbage lorry, chances are you’ll fear that some of its contents many rain on you as nine times out of ten it is uncovered.
All that will come to an end with the High Court telling the civic authorities that waste should not be transported uncovered and that future bidders for the city’s garbage contracts cannot be awarded more than five packages.
A Division Bench comprising Justice N. Kumar and Justice B.V. Nagarathna laid down the guidelines after noticing several “irregularities” by way of changing the conditions in the tender documents as well as during the tender process by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), when it awarded garbage packages to new contractors in November-December last year.
However, the Bench treated the changes made by the BBMP in the tender conditions, which enabled one agency (M/s BVG India Ltd) to corner 50 out of total 81 packages, as an attempt to break a cartel, which emerged from an “unholy alliance among the contractors, councillors, elected representatives, and the corporation officials…” The Bench pointed out that garbage contract has become a “big business” as BBMP spends Rs.1,200 crore annually for its collection, segregation and transportation.
“Even after everyone [has had their share of the cake], the city is not clean, money is squandered, and cartels are thriving. It has become an additional source of income to others who are partners in this enterprise…,” the Bench said. In such a situation, the changes in tender conditions made by the BBMP cannot be viewed only on legality; court also has to take note of BBMP’s efforts to break the cartel. This process cannot be interfered with at the instance of the petitioners, who were the old contractors. It is because of them the city began to have garbage problems, the court said..
However, the Bench made it clear it did not approve of BBMP’s modifications, but the experience it gained in the process showed that the changes require reconsideration. BBMP would be at liberty to incorporate such terms and conditions suitable for executing the garbage contract in terms of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2000.
As BVG India has surrendered 30 out of 50 contracts it had bagged, the Bench Court asked BBMP to re-tender them immediately as per these guidelines.
In case of eight contracts with the BVG India, where breach of terms were alleged, the BBMP could either resolve the dispute or re-tender them in case of termination of contract.
Meanwhile, the Bench set aside the 90 per cent concession offered to the bidders belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in respect of earnest money deposit (EMD) and solvency. However, the court said the 10 packages awarded to the successful bidders from SC/ST community cannot be cancelled if they provide within two months the EMD and solvency as provided by non-SC/ST bidders.