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BMC officials booked for irregularities in setting up O2 plants at hospitals

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police has registered a case against unknown BMC officers and a contractor for alleged irregularities in setting up oxygen generation plants at nine civic hospitals and two jumbo Covid centres during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A case has been registered at the Nagpada Police station against Romin Chheda of Highway Construction Company and unknown BMC officials who caused losses worth ₹6 crore to the civic body by overlooking delays in construction.

According to the EOW, the civic body had awarded a contract to build oxygen generation plants in nine of its hospitals and two jumbo Covid centres to Constructions Company. The hospitals included V N Desai Hospital, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital, GTB Hospital, Kasturba Hospital, BYL Nair Hospital, R N Cooper Hospital, K B Bhabha Hospital, KEM Hospital and ATMG Sion Hospital.

“The work was to be completed in 30 days or the contractor was to be fined 1% of the contract amount for every week of delay. He was even fined ₹3.16 crore for the same. But we found the dates for “handed over” and “taking over” in civic reports did not match in many cases, and they should have collected another ₹6 crore as penalty from the contractor,” said an EOW official.

Officials from the agency said the contract was awarded to Chheda even though he was not eligible for the tender. He and his accomplices also made fake reports showing the work was completed in August 2021, although the work was not completed before October 2021.

“We have booked Chheda and unknown civic body officials who helped him and were in connivance with him,” said the officer.

Meanwhile, the ED has alleged that Chheda inflated oxygen cylinder bills for Covid-19 centres during the pandemic. According to ED sources and complaints received by the agency, Chheda, who supplied oxygen cylinders to Covid jumbo centres, allegedly billed them at five time the price. The ED has already conducted searches at the homes and offices of Chheda and his accomplices. The income tax department has also carried out searches in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Prayagraj in connection with alleged tax evasion.

Chheda is also accused of sub-contracting oxygen supply to a Delhi-based supplier. BJP leader Kirit Somaiya has alleged that he is a blacklisted contractor but was getting contracts due to his connections with various leaders. Hindustan Times

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