In what has come as an eye-opener, it has now emerged that for the past one year, the public health department of Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) has been making fabricated payments worth Rs 1 crore to agencies for artificial tenders and quotations for works never executed.
During HT investigation, it was found that skipping the protocol, the hefty payments, ranging between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, were distributed directly among officers concerned. In certain cases, repeated tenders were invited and allotted to the same agencies.
Also, the allotment letters for the works, copies of which are in possession of HT, carry no details of the location of the allotted work.
The nature of tenders allotted include repair of water supply pipes, its joints; cleaning of manholes at various locations in respect of storm water drain and sewerage system; repair of pumping machinery and defective parts of various tubewells; repair of road gullies and manholes; and providing or fixing manhole covers, road gully covers and their frames.
The allotment letters also reveal that in the past one year, more than 60 tenders have been allotted to one agency and its sister concern.
Most of these works come under non-plan head and are not approved by any committee. Resultantly, there is no check on the works, and contractors in connivance with officers make most of the situation.
It was also found that despite ban on inviting quotations for carrying out maintenance and other works, some sub-divisional engineers (SDEs) had been inviting quotations.
According to one of the leading contractors of the civic body, the agencies got their tenders processed personally through lower-rung officials, while higher officials were not even in the know. The maximum tenders had been allotted by MC public health division number 1 and 2, the contractor added.
Showing no surprise, former mayor and Congress councillor Subhash Chawla said, “This is nothing new. We have demanded several times that non-plan expenditure should also be approved, as done for works under plan head by various sub-committees and finance and contract committee, and final approval should be given in MC House. While earlier, the corporation used to monitor expenditure quarterly, the practice has faded away.”