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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

MC dept 'favours' private company

Hillary Victor, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh Chandigarh, November 28, 2012
First Published: 10:42 IST(28/11/2012) | Last Updated: 10:53 IST(28/11/2012)

The public health department of the Chandigarh municipal corporation has allegedly prepared "inflated" detailed notice inviting tenders (DNIT) to favour a private firm to tune of Rs. 3 crore for the project of laying of 600-mm mild steel pipe over a distance of nearly 15 km for water supply from Sector-39 waterworks to Chandimandir cantonment in 2008.

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Though the work on the project began in 2009, it is yet to be completed.

The matter came to light after an audit report of accountant general, Chandigarh, was released recently. MC vigilance officer Lalit Siwach, who is also conducting a probe since May, is yet to give a report on the scam.

The audit report alleged that civic body officials favoured Spun Pipe Construction Company by inflating the project cost, benefiting the private firm to the tune of Rs. 3 crore.

The report revealed that the department hypothetically worked out price of Rs. 58 per kg for 6mm mild steel sheet to be used for the pipe, though was Rs. 34 per kg as per Steel Authority of India (SAI) rates prevailing at that time.

Since 6mm mild steel pipe weighs 97 kg per metre, given the distance to be covered by the pipeline, the difference was Rs. 2,038 per metre. For the 15-km pipeline, the overpayment thus came to over Rs. 3 crore. The report also questioned as to why a single tender was accepted in the first two instances.

In 2008, military engineers services (MES) had requested the Chandigarh MC to prepare estimate for supply of additional 3 million gallon water daily to Chandimandir from Kajauli waterworks. The MC public health department prepared the project report and estimated the cost at Rs. 40 crore.

Hindustan Times, in its report on April 23, had highlighted the issue. Following a debate in the MC House on April 30, mayor Raj Bala Malik formed a seven-member committee.

The probe panel was hit by a controversy since BJP councillor Saurabh Joshi, who had first raised the issue in the House, was not made member of the panel. When the committee held its first meeting on May 22, chairman Subhash Chawla submitted his resignation on the ground that he was feeling "suffocated".

Later in May, the MC House approved a vigilance inquiry into the scam. MC vigilance officer Lalit Siwach was asked to submit a report by June, but it is still awaited.

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