“The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has fired Monorail’s COO, who is also the MMRDA’s assistant head (transport planning),”, it was reported.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau has opened an investigation into Mr. Murthy on suspicion of bribery. The case was filed in August 2021 after Murthy allegedly sought Rs 20 lakh to settle bills for services rendered by the complainant’s firm.
The complainant’s company was tasked with housekeeping tasks, with a total bill of Rs 2.5 crore between January 2019 and August 2020, plus a bank deposit of Rs 32 lakh. invoices totaling approximately Rs 2.3 crores were cleared, but the lingering sum was retained, and Mr. Murthy allegedly requested a bribe of Rs 20 lakhs to clear the remaining invoices.
MMRDA is also undertaking an independent investigation into allegations of tender violations during Mr. Murhy’s tenure as COO of the Mumbai Monorail, which amount to thousands of rupees.
The ACB has yet to get the technical evidence report for the registered bribery case from the Forensic Science Laboratory in Kalina.
MMRDA asked Murthy to quit in August after a probe into alleged irregularities in monorail tenders. When he was COO, he allegedly inflated price quotes for monorail components. The firing follows an ongoing investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) into an allegation brought against Murthy in 2021 for allegedly accepting a bribe from a contractor. The MMRDA has begun an independent internal investigation in response to these allegations.
The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Kalina, has yet to send an evidentiary report pertaining to the alleged bribery case against Murthy to the Mumbai Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). The MMRDA authority’s discovery of anomalies will determine the number of departmental inquiries. In the meantime, the MMRDA is modernising its processes in order to eliminate delays and corruption.
The Mumbai Monorail lost INR 255 crore while earning only INR 7.50 crore in 2022-2023. MMRDA estimates the losses to be around INR 529 crore over the years 2023–2024.
“On the basis of the preliminary inquiry and the ongoing ACB case, Murthy was asked to step down from his earlier post,” stated an MMRDA official. “We are reviewing all of the monorail tenders approved during his tenure.” We discovered certain anomalies after thoroughly scrutinising two or three sample tenders. This served as the foundation for our preliminary investigation, which is likely to be concluded this month.”
The ongoing investigations are based on claims of inflated amounts in tenders for various components of the monorail, administration work, and other items worth thousands of rupees.
According to MMRDA authorities, “the bidding for the purchase of components and other works varied between 15% and 25% of the market value. Because the situation is still being investigated, it is unclear how many tenders were manipulated and the level of wrongdoing”.
The Mumbai Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), which is investigating Murthy’s alleged bribery, is still awaiting a technical evidence report from the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Kalina. Murthy allegedly sought $20,000 from the owner of a facility management firm in order to pay debts for services done by the complainant’s firm in August 2021.
“The reports are still pending,” an ACB official stated. “An open investigation has also been launched in accordance with procedure.” The ACB is investigating Murthy’s assets and property, as well as those of his family members and close relatives.”
The complainant’s company provides housekeeping, maintenance, and customer service and has a contract from January 2019 to August 2020 with a cost of Rs 2.5 crore. The complainant additionally provided a bank guarantee of Rs. 32 lakh to Mumbai Monorail. Murthy paid 2.10 crore in bills in 2021 and 22 lakh from the deposit amount. He allegedly requested a bribe of Rs. 20 lakh to clear the remaining debt of Rs. 50 lakh.
In July, the complainant sought the ACB. Following verification, the cops set up a trap, which did not function. The ACB, however, registered a case against Murthy based on the evidence, and recordings and other evidence were submitted to FSL Kalina for chemical analysis.
The number of irregularities discovered by the MMRDA authority will determine the number of departmental inquiries. A charge sheet describing the claims and conclusions will be filed, and Murthy will be asked to explain himself.
Murthy refused to reply when the Hindustan Times approached him. MMRDA authorities stated that the monorail department head had been replaced in order to increase efficiency in operation and maintenance. “All of the departments were reviewed to identify areas for improvement,” claimed an MMRDA official. “The failures were investigated. The teams were instructed to concentrate on decreasing recurring defects and breakdowns in the monorail.”
MMRDA is in the process of revamping its whole operation and its several verticals, as well as streamlining projects to reduce delays.
The Mumbai monorail has earned the moniker “white elephant.” It lost 255 crore while generating 7.50 crore in fiscal year 2022–23. MMRDA has estimated losses of about 529 crore over the years 2023–24. During Ganeshotsav, the daily average ridership reached 18,500, a slight increase over the regular figure of roughly 12,000 to 14,000 passengers.