In a major violation of rules, Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh has revised the cost of hiring of 50 sewermen for operation and maintenance of sewerage in the city between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015, from Rs 67 lakh to Rs 85 lakh as it extended the contract by three months in an arbitrary manner.
As per rules, the estimated amount can only be revised in case of variation in the quantity or change in design and there is no provision to extend the time limit, which is one year, fixed in the contract.
For the said work, the time was extended by three months, giving undue benefit to the contractor and causing financial loss of Rs 2 lakh to the civic body. The civic body also paid less to the labourers.
Questions are being raised on what promoted MC chief engineer Mukesh Anand to give approval to the contractor even when the time limit was fixed and why the detailed notice inviting tenders (DNIT) not prepared in advance and work allotted in time.
Even as the duration of the contract was increased by Anand only four days back, when HT contacted him, he feigned ignorance over the issue. “I am not aware of the issue and will look into it,” Anand said.
It may be mentioned, that the sewerage maintenance work was allotted to contractor Deepak Bindra of SAS Nagar. After the expiry of the contract on May 31 this year, the contractor continued with the work at the existing rate for three months as the MC failed to allot the new work.
The MC chief engineer gave his approval to the contractor to continue the work till the time it was allotted to a contractor from Panchkula on September 9 for the next one year.
Furthermore, the sewermen were paid less as the deputy commissioner’s rates were revised from Rs 7,997 to Rs 8,587 with effect from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015 and further from Rs 8,587 to Rs 9,703 for next year. The rates were paid less than the DC rates, but the contractor was paid more during the extended period of three months, as the sum was enhanced from Rs 67 lakh to Rs 85 lakh.
Nominated councillor Surinder Bahga said, “It is not for the first time that the engineering department has enhanced the rates arbitrarily. It is a very serious violation of rules. Why the work was not allotted to the new firm on time,” he questioned.
One of the executive engineers of public health wing said the chief engineer was in the habit of sitting on the files for months, which causes delay in executing the work and also cause loss to exchequer.