After incurring losses due to non-utilisation of testing machinery for four years, the Industrial Development Facility Centre (IDFC) of the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) is finally set to get the prerequisite nod from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
The centre had procured machinery worth over Rs 80 lakh from the union government's grant-in-aid for a testing facility for small-scale industrial units in the region, but it could not operate the laboratory as it did not posses NABL accreditation. The lab was, in fact, set up with an aim to inject a new lease of life into the IDFC, which was otherwise running into heavy losses since 1992.
A team from the NABL visited the IDFC recently for inspection and the centre claims to have complied with all norms. CITCO general manager (sales) AK Malhotra said, "We have submitted the compliance report and are hopeful of getting accreditation shortly. The testing laboratory will help all the SSI units in the region to improve their service."
Note, however, that the authorities did not bother to even apply for the mandatory accreditation for more than two years after installation of the machinery. It was only last year when the department applied, that too after receiving an RTI application seeking information on the status of accreditation.
Spelling out the reason for the delay, sources said that the IDFC did not fulfill requirements earlier -- besides other issues, the IDFC did not have sufficient staff with necessary education and training to carry out the mechanical testing work.
The non-utalisation of machinery had led to a controversy after the CITCO Progressive Worker Union lodged a complaint with Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) at New Delhi in July 2011, alleging irregularities in the purchase and inspection of the equipment for the IDFC. The complaint was forwarded to the UT administration, but no action was taken.
The worker union had again approached the CVC last year, alleging inaction on part of the UT chief vigilance officer and has demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The equipment was purchased from seven suppliers based in Aurangabad, Bangalore, Pune, New Delhi, Mumbai, Faridabad and Chandigarh. There was a substantial delay in the installation of machinery, some parts of which were installed around a year after the date of receipt from suppliers. At present, the machinery is gathering dust at the IDFC in Industrial Area Phase 1.