CAG slams BMC, contractor over Rs12,000-cr sewage project

Published on Dec 13, 2015 01:20 AM IST
Auditor criticises civic body for poor planning, financial irregularities, incorrect data and incompetence
Only 40% of the city’s population is covered by the sewerage network.(HT)
Only 40% of the city’s population is covered by the sewerage network.(HT)
Hindustan Times | ByLaxman Singh, Mumbai

The BMC’s ambitious Rs12,000-crore Mumbai Sewerage Disposal Project (MSDP-2) has been severely criticised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of Maharashtra for financial irregularities, faulty design and technology, incorrect data and incompetence.

In a note accessed by HT, the CAG flayed the BMC for failing to implement the project and for the “unfruitful” and “deficient” master plan prepared in 2002 by an international consultancy consortium of Mott Macdonald and RV Anderson. The project envisages the setting up of seven sewage treatment plants — at Colaba, Worli, Bandra, Versova, Malad, Ghatkopar and Bhandup — and upgrading existing networks to cover the entire city by 2025.

The contract to prepare the master plan was awarded in 1999 and it was completed in 2002. However, after the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board changed pollution norms for treatment plants in 2007, the job of preparing the plan for the project was again awarded to the same consortium.

But eight years later, the plan remained incomplete despite a three-year extension. This year, the BMC decided to cancel the contract and choose another contractor. But by this time, the cost of the project had more than doubled from Rs5,000 crore to Rs12,000 crore. The CAG note also pointed to deficiencies in the master plan at the time of execution (see box).

A senior official from the MSDP department said, “The CAG has slammed civic body for paying the consultant Rs143 crore despite no work being completed.”

Actual physical progress on the project has also been slow, with tenders issued only for the plant at Colaba so far. The CAG noted that work on sewerage treatment plants, outfalls and transfer sewers is yet to be tendered. The process of laying new sewer lines and rehabilitating old ones, however, is in progress. Civic chief Ajoy Mehta told HT, “After CAG’s remarks we have been trying to speed up the project. In the next few months we will be able to float the tenders for all eight sewerage treatment plants.” A representative of the Mott MacDonald consortium did not respond to repeated calls and text messages.

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