Blacklisted Wizcraft bags Magnetic Maharashtra contract: Has Fadnavis forgotten promise to 'teach company a lesson'?

Mumbai: Nearly two years ago and in the aftermath of the blaze at Girgaum Chowpatty during the Make in India event, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had assured the Upper House of the legislative council that no contracts would be given to event organiser Wizcraft International Entertainment henceforth. The government had filed an FIR against Wizcraft for negligence and wilfully flouting the fire safety instructions at the Make In India event on 14 February, 2016. Industries Minister Subhash Desai also announced in the House that the BMC and Mumbai Police filed an FIR against Wizcraft. Now in 2018, both appear to have forgotten their words.

File image of the blaze at the Make in India event in 2016. AFP

File image of the blaze at the Make in India event in 2016. AFP

It was reported on Thursday that the contract for Magnetic Maharashtra had been handed by CII to Wizcraft. Now, Firstpost also has in its possession the proceedings of 11 April, 2016 in the House, in response to Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt's Calling Attention Motion about the Make in India incident. In response. Desai and Fadnavis told members of the Upper House that due to the negligence, the government filed an FIR against Wizcraft at DB Marg Police Station.

Later, the chief minister provided assured, "We are not sparing anyone. The company (Wizcraft) is well-known in the field of national and international events. We want to teach them a lesson. The company has handled a majority of important functions, but we've filed an FIR against it. It will serve as a lesson to all event organisers that SOPs must be followed."

He added that ahead of the BRICS Summit in Goa later that year, there were several events scheduled in Goa. "For those events, Wizcraft was the lowest bidder. But, we took a a stand and conveyed to the organiser Mumbai First that 'You are the organiser and we are the supporter', but you cannot give a contract to a company against whom we have filed an FIR. Mumbai First stood with us on that."

But, less than two years later, Wizcraft is back to handle the high-profile Magnetic Maharashtra event to be held at BKC from 18 to 20 February. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be inaugurating the event before laying the foundation stone for the Navi Mumbai International Airport in Panvel. Both events are being handled by Wizcraft, with the Maharashtra government as its official host.

Interestingly, after probing the Make in India fire incident, the Maharashtra government also filed an FIR and blacklisted the company in March 2016. Wizcraft was booked under various sections of IPC for negligence and even denied a contract for the BRICS Conclave in April despite placing the lowest bid.

"We had rejected Wizcraft's lowest bid and took the second-lowest bidder," Fadanvis told the Upper House of the legislature during the Budget Session on 11 April, 2016. Two years on, Desai told Firstpost, "We have partnered with CII for Magnetic Maharashtra. They have chosen the event company and our government has no role in it. I am not aware if the same firm is handling this event. However, I will seek more information."

Dutt, who raised the issue in the House in 2016, told Firstpost, "How can the BJP government escape from its responsibilities? How can they award the contract to a company named in an FIR? Both Fadnavis and Desai assured us that they will take strict action against the offenders. But, here they award Wizcraft the contract. I will raised the issue in the Budget Session, scheduled from 26 February."

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, "It will be a breach of the assurances given to us by the chief minister. Instead of taking action against Wizcraft, the chief minister and Desai are busy rewarding the company. The government lies everyday and by giving the contract to CII without a tendering process (see Thursday's story), it is misusing its powers."

When asked, Wizcraft's founder-director Sabbas Joseph confirmed that his company has won the contract for the Magnetic Maharashtra event. "We are not blacklisted. The tendering process was done and we put in the lowest bid. So we got the contract." When asked about FIR against Wizcraft, he replied, "The court has not declared us guilty yet. The law will taking its own course. I do not see anything wrong that we had done in Make In India event in 2016."

Read the proceedings of 11 April, 2016 in Marathi below: 

Proceedings of Legislative Council of Maharashtra

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Updated Date: Feb 16, 2018 14:03:05 IST

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