In what could be an act of defiance, councillors of the Mormugao Municipal Council (MMC) have overruled a note from Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar recommending a re-tender in the auction of an MMC flat.
Seven of the eight councillors, who had earlier demanded a re-tendering of the auction process, took a U-turn on Tuesday and insisted that the tender should be awarded to the brother of a former MMC chairperson.
It may be recalled that MMC wanted to auction a four-decade-old commercial flat at Kosambe building and the council had received eight applications for the bidding process on November 21.
The bidding started at Rs 2,600 and it was raised to Rs 3,500, when a former MMC councillor unexpectedly raised the bid to Rs 30,000, which took everyone by surprise.
Many, including MMC Chief Officer Agnelo Fernandes, had suspected something fishy in the bidding process.
But instead of making the payment the next day, the former councillor had expressed his inability to pay the amount, due to which he had to forfeit his deposit and the flat was awarded to the next highest bidder.
One aggrieved bidder had then suggested that this could have been a pre-planned arrangement to enable the second highest bidder to win the auction.
Herald had first highlighted the controversial bidding process and acting on the report, a council meeting was convened on November 27, 2012, during which eight councillors objected to the auctioning process and demanded a re-tendering of the auction.
However, the matter was referred for legal advice and Adv Hyder Kilje placed the ball in the court of the councillors and urged them to decide in the matter.
Accordingly, MMC Chairperson Fiola Rego had placed the issue before the council on Tuesday and, seven of the eight councillors, who had demanded a re-tendering of the auction, took a U-turn and decided to support the bidding process which had gone in favour of former chairperson Suchita Shirodkar’s brother Krishna (Baculi) Malvankar.
Chief Officer Agnelo Fernandes then informed the council that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in his noting had recommended a re-tender in the auction of the MMC’s commercial flat.
Councillors were then taken aback when one councillor adamantly remarked at the meeting that the council should pass a resolution in favour of the second highest bidder, whether it (the noting) was from the CM or PM.
Fernandes immediately objected to the remark and bluntly told the councillor to “keep quiet.”
Despite the chief minister’s noting, 15 of the 19 councillors present at the meeting decided to support the earlier bidding process.
Incidentally, Councillor Krishna Salkar, who on November 27 had insisted on the re-tendering of auction, had left the council meeting on Tuesday before the issue could be discussed.
Vasco MLA and KTC Chairman Carlos Almeida strongly objected to the demands of the councillors to allot the flat to Malvankar and urged them to follow the noting of the chief minister and call for a fresh tender.
Councillor Pascoal D’Souza, who also took part in the discussion, alleged that the entire auctioning process was faulty and also demanded a re-tender of the auction.
When asked whether the rent was assessed by the PWD (building division) before auctioning the flat, Rego admitted that it was never done.
Later speaking to Herald, Fernandes said he was of the opinion that the auction should be re-tendered as it would fetch more revenue to the municipal council.
Incidentally, even Deputy Chief Minister Francisco D’Souza, who also holds the Urban Development portfolio, had also suggested the re-tendering of the auction, during his recent visit to Vasco. [H]