Irregularities in preparation of cost estimates and poor planning is what could have caused a major drain of civic treasury funds being spent on the Middle Vaitarna dam project which promises an additional of 455 million litres of water to the city every day.
A 58% escalation in cost amounting to Rs. 900 crore has been incurred by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in a span of five years since tenders were invited for the project in 2007.
When it is ready in May, the dam will help the city make up for a shortfall of 700 million litres per day that it currently faces.
Justifying the variation in costs, Ramesh Bhambale, deputy municipal commissioner (special engineering), said: “The rise in cost was not foreseen when the initial estimates were prepared and the project was mooted. But we had to keep pace with the changes in the nature of work that we came across from time to time as work progressed.”
Opposition parties have slammed the civic administration for approving such enormous cost escalation without contemplating any action against the contractors or officials responsible for this unchecked spending of taxpayers’ money.
“Often, the contractors bid lower amounts while bagging the contract and seek approvals for cost variations at a later stage. The consultants who designed the project and prepared the cost estimates must also be penalised,” said Sandeep Deshpande, MNS corporator and civic standing committee member.
He also alleged covert links between powerful politicians and influential bureaucrats for the execution of the mega project that has drained taxpayers’ money.
HT had reported in January how recurrent delays in the completion of a bridge near the dam undertaken by the state public works department had also cost the BMC 40% more than estimated. “Funds of crores of rupees have been sapped for the project. There is a need for the administration to issue a detailed clarification on the delays and cost variations in the project,” said Manoj Kotak, BJP corporator and standing committee member.