Messrs Kotia Project received a contract from VMC to manage the Harani Motnath Lake Zone, despite having zero balance and no relevant experience. This 30-year contract, granted in 2016, was peculiar as Kotia Project specialized only in making and distributing snacks. The company’s bank balance was nil when it secured the contract, and no IT documents were submitted at the time.
Controversial Tender Process and Tragic Consequences
The tender process faced opposition protests since 2015, with cancellations attributed to political interference. Eventually approved in two months, the 30-year contract faced criticism when a significant tragedy occurred due to the snacks company’s negligence. The opposition demands action against officials involved during that period.
Allegations of Monopolistic Award Under Political Pressure
Amid allegations of political pressure, Vadodara Municipal Corporation’s opposition leader, Ami Rawat, asserted that the contract was gave to a monopolist. All office bearers and officers were held responsible for this decision, made under political influence.
Qualified Lessee Disqualification and Requalification
Initially disqualified due to lack of experience as a new firm, the Kotia project was later requalified within two months. The opposition protested, questioning how a firm with expertise only in making and selling Farsan could be entrusted with the project. Despite objections, the same lessee was approved within two months by corporation officials, including former town planner officer Gopal Shah.
Project Handed to Inexperienced Individuals Leading to Issues
The opposition leader emphasized that the project had been assigned to inexperienced individuals from the start, resulting in the observed issues. The contract, obtained through political influence, indicated fraudulent practices. Calls were made for action against the responsible officers, including monitoring the leaseholder.
Kotia Project Firm’s Alleged Political Conspiracy
This Kotia project firm was established as part of a political conspiracy to generate an annual income of five crores for the lessee. Despite having a zero balance sheet and only showcasing experience in selling farsan, it is now suspected that influential political figures are involved. The opposition leader accuses that the project was given through the establishment of a company after manipulating the selection process. In 2016, a plot of land measuring 56 thousand sq. ft. was allotted for the project, valued at 17 crores at the time. Factoring in rent, advertisements, and other earnings, the lessee receives an annual income of five crores, causing a significant loss to the corporation, which only gains three lakhs. The lessee’s investment in the project was a mere 5 crores.
Alleged Irregularities and Protest in 2019
In 2019, it was revealed that the contract had been given improperly, and the opposition had been protesting since its inception. Allegations included the establishment of the firm without following proper rules. A letter was written, informing about the contract’s cancellation due to non-compliance with the tender requirements. Despite this, no vigilance check was conducted, and calls to cancel the contract were ignored. All the letters sent were dismissed as either political pressure or official collusion, holding the responsible officers accountable.
Contractual Controversy in 2017
In 2017, Paresh Shah gave a contract to Kotia Projects for a plan to develop a lake near Vadodara city. The project aimed to provide entertainment facilities, cleanliness, and beauty to the entire area. However, the contract was transferred by Paresh Shah to another company, raising suspicions. The municipality had charged Rs 60 per person, above 5 years old, for entry to the lake.
Lessee’s Investment and Subcontracts
Details emerged that the original contractor, Paresh Shah, handed the contract to another company, Kotia Projects, to be executed on a PPP basis at the full cost of the lessee. The lessee, Paresh Shah, then subcontracted the amusement park to Nilesh Shah, owner of Fun Time Arina. Further investigation revealed that Nilesh Shah had subcontracted the boating contract to someone else.
Contract Proposal and Terms
The Vadodara Municipal Corporation initiated a special project for the renovation of Harani Motnath lake under a PPP basis. Kotia Projects Company was sanctioned an annual premium of 3,01,111 for 30 years, covering entry fees, boating fees, amenity fees, parking fees, hall fees, shop rents, and advertisement fees.
Planning for Cleanliness, Beauty Development
In Vadodara, the municipality gave a 30-year contract to Kotia Projects for the maintenance, cleanliness, beauty, and cultural-recreational activities of Harani Motnath Lake. The development project, initiated in August 2016, required the company to cover all costs related to the lake’s development, operation, and maintenance on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis.
Two Monopolies for Lake Development
The lake development contracts were given to two companies, Messrs Kotia Projects and Messrs Mangalam Construction Co. Both companies underwent evaluation, and after qualifying, presented their proposals in March 2016. The final scope of work and price bids were prepared, and bids were invited by the municipality.
What Was the Rule in the Scope of Work
Developers were responsible for covering all expenses related to the lake’s development, operation, and maintenance during the 30-year operating lease period. The lessee was granted a five-year tax exemption by Vadodara Municipal Corporation, and a premium of 1/- per year was offered. Provision was made for advertising rights, and in case of the lessee ceasing operations prematurely, all property on the site would transfer to Vadodara Municipal Corporation.
Incorporation of Harani Gram Panchayat in the Municipality
Lessees were required to obtain permission for lake development and use specific plots for 30 years. The Harani Gram Panchayat, incorporated into Vadodara Municipality since 2002, had ownership of certain plots, and the lessee was allowed to operate in Sadar plot. Additionally, a premium of 1/- per year was offered by the lessee, Kotia Projects, in response to the scope of work.