In an extreme case of negligence or what could be an instance of collusion between some Chandigarh municipal corporation officials and the managment of a Pune-based private company, the MC has been paying the full amount for just half the work done at SAS Nagar sewage treatment plant, for four years now, causing the exchequer a loss of Rs 1.2 crore.
A Pune-based company, Thermax, treating the city’s sewage at Diggian village, Phase-11, SAS Nagar, was contracted to treat and maintain 30 Million Gallon Daily (MDG) of sewage. However, it has been treating just half the quantity, 15 MGD, and yet has been paid the full amount of Rs 60 lakh a year for four years.
During a visit to the plant at the village, the HT team found that that most of the sewage received at the plant was being diverted to the N-choe.
A perusal of records confirmed that only 15 MGD sewage was being received at the plant. In fact, the second plant in the same area, meant to treat 15 MGD sewage, had been lying defunct. This, even as Rs 4 crore had recently been spent on its maintenance.
An employee at the sewage plant, not wishing to be named, said, “We have been treating only 14-15 MGD sewage at the plant. We are not getting enough sewage as there are outlets where it is drained off to different choes. The health department has failed to check the menace.”
Executive engineer Gurpreet Singh, in-charge of the sewage treatment plant, refused to comment.
Sub-divisional engineer at the plant, Jaspal Singh, said: “I do not know anything on the quantity of sewage received and treated.”
Nominated councillor Surinder Bahga said: “The officers with the MC should explain the basis on which payments have been made to the company for four years when they do not even know the work the firm was supposed to do. It seems officers have colluded with the company to make money. I raised this issue in the House some time back, but did not get any satisfactory answer.”
Incharge of Thermax, the company carrying out the work, Pramod Patil, said: “We are equipped to treat 30 MGD sewage, but we are not at fault if the quantity coming in for treatment is less than this.”
PLANT HAS HISTORY OF IRREGULARITIES
In May 2012, a team led by the then mayor Raj Bala Malik had inspected the plant and found several irregularities. The plant was found to be in utter state of neglect, no record of the work done was found and no employees were found present. Not even a guard was found at the gate. A report was prepared, yet no action was taken against the erring officials.