To favour particular agency, MC turns city street vending plan into rule-bending plan

Hina Rohtaki
At present, there are only 6,500 vendors who are registered with the authorities. Express Archives

SELECTING A firm with higher rates despite the others quoting lower rates, allotting the tender without allowing the minimum time to lapse, paying for almost three times the number of vendors registered with the administration to ramp up the final bill. These are but some of the ways in which the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation tried to favour a Haryana-based agency that carried out a survey of street vendors under the city street vending plan .

According to the documents accessed by Chandigarh Newsline, the work of carrying out the survey was given to Haryana Nav Yuva Sangam in 2016. The agency specified its address near Chaubsee ka chabutra in Rohtak.

It was on March 21, 2016, that the MC put out an advertisement for selecting an agency to survey registered vendors in Chandigarh. The ad clearly specified that the interested bidders could apply till April 21, 2016, but the civic officials were in such a hurry that they opened the bids on April 4 within 15 days of issuing the ad. In the first meeting of the town vending committee on April 4, the members were informed in the morning that MC was required to select an agency to carry out a survey of vendors. At 3 pm, the officers called five agencies to give their pre-bids, even though 17 days were left for the deadline to lapse.

Of the five companies invited for the pre-bid conference, four agencies that made the first cut were M/s NF Infratech Service Private Limited, M/s Rudrabhishek Enterprise Private Limited Noida, M/s Wapcos Limited Gurgaon and M/s Haryana Nav Yuvak Sangam, as per the documents. Surprisingly, the meeting decided to exempt NGOs or government agencies from depositing the earnest money of Rs 1 lakh. Haryana Nav Yuvak Sangam, which finally qualified, happened to be the lone NGO among the contenders.

While giving a score for technical evaluation, Haryana Nav Yuvak Sangam was given 76 marks while others were given 72 or 71 marks. Municipal Commissioner K K Yadav was not available for comment.

Higher quote selected

When the financial bids were to be submitted, Haryana Nav Yuvak Sangam was selected over others even as it quoted a rate of Rs 314 per vendor while M/s NF quoted a rate of Rs 275 or Rs 295 per vendor and M/s Rudrabhishek Enterprises Private Limited quoted Rs 310 per vendor. It was stated that N/F Infratech Services was rejected because it quoted two rates while M/s Rudrabhishek was also not chosen even as their rates were less than Haryana Nav Yuvak Sangam.

According to the documents, the civic body had decided to pay Rs 37 lakh to the agency as MC s estimated survey had found 12,500 vendors in the city and had accordingly budgeted this amount. But the agency pegged the number of vendors at 22,114, thereby almost doubling this sum, Interestingly, at present, there are only 6,500 vendors who are registered with the authorities and pay their fees regularly.

Info denied under RTI

Social activist R K Garg ran from pillar to post to get documents of the tender under the RTI Act but the officials denied him the information stating that it was third party information.

When he went in appeal, his plea was rejected on the grounds that it was third party information. Garg then made a complaint to the UT Adviser who further sent it to the UT Vigilance to probe the matter. The inquiry has already begun.

I don t understand where the vendors have gone now who were actually surveyed, Garg told Chandigarh Newsline. What was the haste in allotting the tender? Were norms tweaked to facilitate them? Garg now has also submitted a complaint with the Prime Minister s Office.

NGO for artistes

Details of the agency revealed that Haryana Nav Yuvak Sangam, a Rohtak-based NGO, was actually Haryana Nav Yuvak Kala Sangam initially founded for promoting artistes in the state. They work for women empowerment, elderly and have held discussions over human trafficking, women empowerment.

Founder and chief functionary of the agency, Jasphool Singh, told Chandigarh Newsline, In fact, we had initially set up this NGO to promote artistes but then people started saying that we should work towards other things too. We have carried out a vendor survey in Himachal Pradesh as well. Rather the officials have withheld part of our payment as well.

CEO of the agency Praveen Kumar said, In fact, I am a victim of all this. My 50 per cent payment has been withheld by the MC officials. The matter was politicised. Hence this problem. Thrice my survey was cross-checked and the number was exactly right. Initially, our NGO was to promote artistes and women empowerment but then we came into urban planning as well. We have conducted surveys in Jharkhand, Ludhiana and several other places. I will be moving the court against officials who stopped my payment.

Agency didn t do many things

Sources said that after the senior officers got to know about the irregularities, they immediately withheld part of the payment that was to be made. Vivek Trivedi, social development officer, said that part of the payment that was to be made to the agency had been stalled. There were many things which the agency was supposed to do but they didn t do, Trivedi said.

When asked why the norms were tweaked, he said, I don t remember any such details and will have to check the official records.