An ‘oversight’ has caused the BBMP a loss of nearly Rs 4 crore as the corporation has paid Rs 1.18 crore for each of the nine sweeping machines priced at Rs 74 lakh.The revelation about the irregularity in payment made in 2017 has kicked up a controversy over garbage management and widened the rift between contractors and officials in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). Delhi-based TPS Infrastructure Limited, which supplied the nine machines, recently bagged the contract to supply 16 more sweeping machines. Garbage contractors, who earlier had a tight grip on waste management, have accused the BBMP of favouring the company. The BBMP recently floated tenders for the purchase of 16 more machines. Garbage contractors have questioned the lack of transparency in the procurement of nine mechanical sweepers and the ongoing process to buy 32 more. Vidyanath Reddy, a contractor who filed an RTI to get details about the excess payment, said the entire process was an eyewash to award the tender to a particular company. “Officials who purchased machines worth Rs 74 lakh each billed it at Rs 1.18 crore. Rs 44 lakh is a huge difference. For nine machines, the excess payment comes to Rs 3.96 crore,” he said. In its reply to the RTI query, the BBMP has a bizarre explanation for the excess payment. The answer by a BBMP official on 10/08/2017 read, “In an oversight error, the price of ‘truck-mounted’ machines has been billed as ‘self-propelled’, by paying 13.02% additional cost. A letter has been written to deduct or adjust the price amount in five year Operation and Maintenance (Supplementary contract) for the purpose.”Vinodh Reddy, another garbage contractor, said the evidence clearly showed that the BBMP officials were favouring the company. “If we had not questioned the faulty billing, nobody would have come to know about this. How can officials come up with such answers! Now we all know that the new tender for 16 machines will be issued to the same company,” he said. BBMP Joint Commissioner (SWM) Sarfaraz Khan rejected claims of irregularity. “Everything has been done as per rules. The error happened due to repeated changes in tender documents made as per the contractors’ request. We had first prepared documents for self-propelled machines which was changed to truck-mounted ones due to the contractors’ pressure. No extra payment has been made to any company, neither have we favoured any company,” he said.