Worli Robo Parking Hub Cost Hikes By 30%

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Even before the project’s tender was chosen, the price of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) planned multilevel electro-mechanical car parking system, popularly known as robo parking, in Worli, had increased by a staggering 30%. Activists said that contractor rigging and corruption were to blame for the increase, and they charged that the civic body was carelessly squandering tax dollars on opulent projects while crucial city bridges needed repairs.

The BMC put out a tender in March 2023, and the estimated cost of the Worli multilevel parking project was INR 165 crore. It was made up of a ground-plus-23-story building with two basement floors and 640 parking spaces. However, it was purported that all offers exceeded the expected cost, leading to the cancellation of the tender in October 2023. Activist Kamlakar Shenoy claimed that when BMC relaunched the tender on December 28, 2023, the cost was increased to INR 216 crore without any significant revisions to the tender requirements.

Shenoy had accessed the BMC’s internal communication documents and highlighted escalation in project cost. He said, “The BMC appointed a project management consultant during the interim period, who increased the cost by more than 30%.”

According to the records, the BMC authorised the increased expense despite the fact that its deputy chief engineer for traffic claimed the consultant had changed several tender requirements without notifying the office. For example, the project duration was extended from thirty to forty-eight months without notifying the engineers at BMC, and the ten percent price variance cap was lifted.

Shenoy claimed, “This is against the greater public interest and is pure corruption.” He presented a comparative figure that revealed the cost per parking space for the Worli project (not including civil works) to be INR 17.4 lakh, compared to INR 10.57 lakh and INR 9.32 lakh for comparable projects in Mumbadevi and Matunga.

He accused BMC of wasting public money. Shenoy said that similar to Worli, there were irregularities in the multilevel parking schemes in Mumbadevi and Matunga. However, the BMC declined to look into these claims in spite of multiple correspondences from senior BMC officials, the police, the economic offences wing, and the vigilance department. Tenders are being given in both instances despite the lack of no objection certifications. Shenoy questioned, “How is this even possible?”

“Work on important city bridges, such as the Hancock and Carnac bridges, is stalled. However, Shenoy stated that the BMC is eager to implement gimmicks like robot parking.

The BMC’s standing committee’s former opposition leader, Ravi Raja, stated that the local body must first determine whether such expensive parking lots are actually necessary. The BMC’s current inclination is to purposefully inflate tenders. How did the tender cost unexpectedly increase by almost INR 60 crores? Raja stated, “This is blatant evidence of contractor manipulation and embezzlement of public funds.”