Poor implementation of projects plays a major role in ensuring that the purpose of the projects remains unfulfilled. The civic body’s current methods of implementing projects are, what many believe, a major reason why the quality of civic projects remains so poor.
No verification of the actual work done, no check on the quality of men, machines and materials used and acting in connivance with contractors to help them - these are just some reasons why your money often goes wasted.
In fact, even the municipal chief auditor (MCA) department, in a recent audit note, criticised the civic body’s method of supervising and verifying the work done by contractors, before releasing payments.
Despite an annual budget outlay of over Rs20,000 crore, the methods used by BMC engineers to certify and monitor work on projects are rudimentary. For instance rather than checking the quality of the projects, engineers are supposed to take physical measurements of the work done and record them in a ‘measurement book’.
A senior civic engineer, who has dealt extensively with carrying out capital works said, “The measurement system is flawed because there is no emphasis on quality. We are only looking at the quantity of work done.”
Apart from this, there is no external verification of the work done. The MCA’s note criticised the fact that payments to contractors are released solely on the basis of an officer’s certificates. The audit note added that the civic body should make it compulsory for contractors to submit receipts of the materials, machines and labour they use to work on a project.
DM Sukhtankar, former chief secretary, said external audits were the only solution to the problem. “The system, as such, is fine but gets corrupted because of a few dishonest individuals. Hence, there have to be external audits conducted by an third-party auditor.”
According to the MCA’s note, the contractor-officials nexus is another major reason why the expenditure cannot be checked sufficiently.
Former deputy municipal commissioner PR Sanglikar blamed the shoddy work on the fact that there was no strict monitoring of work done by officials. “Most projects are announced in a fancy manner, but there is hardly any probing from either the media or even the public, to see if they are being done at all. To add to it, civic officials, especially IAS officers, have no accountability. Hence, there is no way to keep checks on them.”