India

Under new name, firm blacklisted in Surat won six Mumbai contracts

Under new name, firm blacklisted in Surat won six Mumbai contracts

A consultancy firm blacklisted by Surat Municipal Corporation and facing charges of culpable homicide in connection with the death of 10 workers in a flyover collapse has bagged over half-a-dozen contracts for bridges in Mumbai as a new entity under a different name, The Indian Express has found.

TPF Engineering Private Limited is promoted by directors of S N Bhobe & Associates Private Limited, and a foreign firm TPF SA Belgium.

Based in Navi Mumbai, S N Bhobe & Associates Private Limited was blacklisted by Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) after the flyover collapse in 2014. The company was project management consultant for the flyover.

According to documents accessed by The Indian Express, TPF Engineering Private Limited has bagged over the last two years over six contracts from BMC’s bridges department worth at least Rs 1 crore. The firm also bid for a consultancy contract for Coastal Road, the BMC’s pet project, in 2017, but the bid was rejected, citing non-disclosure of TPF’s connections to S N Bhobe Associates.

Following collapse of the under-construction Athawalines flyover in Surat, investigators found negligence on the part of S N Bhobe. Blacklisting was initiated in 2014 and municipal commissioner Milind Torawane passed the order in 2015. Bhobe was blacklisted for five years, reveal documents accessed by The Indian Express.

The coastal road department sent letters to executive engineer of bridges department of SMC and Umra Police station, seeking details of the order blacklisting the firm and the FIR. In reply, SMC and police confirmed that the firm was blacklisted and an FIR lodged. A letter was also sent to BMC’s bridges department, seeking clarity on this issue. But, there was no reply. The bid was rejected in January 2018.

According to Registrar of Companies documents, TPF Engineering Pvt Ltd was incorporated in October 13, 2015, and registered in Vashi. At the time, it had two Indian directors — Atul Damodar Bhobe and Damodar Bhobe — and a Belgian partner, Thomas Spitaels. Within a month of being blacklisted, S N Bhobe Associates was demerged in TPF Engineering Private Limited. Documents, as on September 12, 2018, show that TPF has 51 per cent shares of TPF SA Belgium, while Atul holds 22.66 per cent and Minakshi Bhobe 26.34 per cent. Atul, Minakshi and Spitaels are also directors of S N Bhobe.

TPF has denied that it has been blacklisted. Amarnath Chatterjee, vice-president (Business Development) of the firm said in an email, “It is for your information that there is no FIR registered against our firm, either M/s S N Bhobe & Associates Private Limited or M/s TPF Engineering Private Limited… M/s TPF Engineering Pvt Ltd, which is empanelled and working with MCGM, has never been blacklisted with any of our clients.” Chief Engineer, BMC Bridges Department, Sanjay Darade said, “I will have to check documents whether the company disclosed this information at the time of bidding.”