GROSS IRREGULARITIES in laying of water pipeline in Pithampur Industrial Area has come to fore with Rs 35 lakh government funds going down the drain.
To ease the water scarcity in Sectors 1 and 2 of Pithampur Industrial Area, MPAKVN, Indore, in the year 2001 had proposed transfer of water from Sector 3. Acting on its recommendation, the State Government in the same year sanctioned Rs 32-lakh project for laying water pipeline between Sectors 3 and 1. The final project cost was over Rs 35 lakh.
“Not a single drop of water has flowed from Sector 3 to Sector 1 till date,” says Pithampur Industries Association President Gautam Kothari. “The whole exercise was a sham right from the start, and there was gross misappropriation of government funds.”
The MPAVKN flouted rules at every step of the project. It procured 200 mm ACP pipes without conducting any study or test as to what kind of pipe was best suited for the purpose. The pipes that were procured were not tested for quality at any stage.
The work for laying the pipelines was awarded to a number of contractors, and the contracts were given for less than Rs 50,000 each. The whole purpose behind this exercise was to avoid floating a tender for the project. Full payments were made to the contractors without ascertaining the quality of work.
A report prepared by MPAKVN engineers justifying the procurement procedure makes interesting reading. The report states: “As per instructions of higher authorities the laying work of ACP pipes was to be completed within weeks time. Hence, for easy completion and considering the time period required for inspection of agency fixed by MPLUN (company which supplied the pipes) it was decided to accept uninspected pipes. Accordingly, factory tested pipes were accepted.”
A number of attempts to supply water from Sector 3 to Sector 1 have failed due to heavy leakage in the “factory tested” pipeline.
Another report written by the then assistant engineer V V Rajwade states: “During testing of pipeline, bursting of total of four pipes was observed by MD (S C Dave)/EE (P C Sankhla) during the site visit. However, testing work is completed and there is no need to withhold payment.” Full payments were made despite explicit instruction by MPSIDC to withhold 25 per cent payment pending satisfactory testing.
Kothari believes that the whole project was a half-baked scheme to rip off the government. “There is no surplus water in Sector 3 for supplying to Sector 1. In fact, AKVN recently proposed a Rs 5.5-crore project to bring water to Sector 3 from Sanjay Jalashay, which supplies water to Sector 1.”
The Pithampur Industries Association has written to Industries Commissioner, M Gopal Reddy demanding high-level inquiry into the matter.