BMC Social Media Deal Cancelled

BMC’s new social media deal called-off as company withdraws in less than a month

Mumbai, January 20: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is in a hitch over finding an agency to manage its social media.

Sunjeet Communications Pvt Ltd, which describes itself as a full-service INS advertising agency was appointed on December 31 to the task of managing 34 twitter handles of BMC for its 24 wards at a cost of Rs 1.31 crore per year. It has now withdrawn from the deal, leaving the BMC with no option but to roll out new tenders for a new agency to handle its social media platform.

These are four among the BMC’s 34 Twitter handles now awaiting a new agency. In contrast, @MumbaiPolice has only one handle.

As part of the deal, Sunjeet Communications Pvt Ltd had reportedly agreed to provide a staff of 28 persons, including digital PR assistants, videographers, photographers and artist to operate BMC’s Twitter handle accounts 24×7. However, a BMC official said, since the agency is not willing to take up the venture, its security deposit will be considered forfeit and a new tender will be floated for a fresh appointment.

Attempts to get information from Sunjeet Communications repeatedly proved unsuccessful.

Three years ago, the BMC, without announcing tenders, had signed up with Maha-IT, a state government enterprise, to manage its social media, largely consisting of 34 Twitter handles, for Rs. 5.9 crore. The contract was from July 2019 to July 2022. However, many corporators and MLAs criticised the expenditure in view of already shrinking revenues.

The main criticism seemed to be that there was inadequate audit of the impact of the social media handles on citizens.

BJP corporator Vinod Mishra suggested that there seemed to be no method of gauging the functioning of the earlier agency that was paid around Rs. 1.81 crore a year. He has also criticised the BMC for its “wrong estimates” that had caused even the new agency to withdraw suddenly. He has demanded an inquiry into the methods the officials used to arrive at the new evaluation of Rs 1.31 crore per year.

The  BMC was also criticised by Samajwadi Party MLA from Bhiwandi East, Rais Shaikh, who pointed out that the Mumbai Police, one of the first government agencies to have a Twitter account,  has till now  only one handle, @MumbaiPolice,  to address the grievances of the citizens. He compared this with the BMC which has created 34 handles, one for each of its 24 wards plus others for certain of its departments, as this had only led to increased cost and muddle.

Anisha Choudhary

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