No official pact but Rs 18 cr paid
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started work to close the Deonar dumping ground and also paid the contractor Rs 18 crore without signing an official agreement with the company.Updated: Jul 05, 2010 00:41 IST
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started work to close the Deonar dumping ground and also paid the contractor Rs 18 crore without signing an official agreement with the company.
A query filed by Mulund resident Arun Kumar Gupta under the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed that the concession agreement between the contractor and the BMC sanctioning the Rs 3,495-crore project is still being prepared although the contract period started in December. The contractor, meanwhile, was paid Rs 18 crore for five months for ‘receiving municipal solid waste’.
B.P. Patil, chief engineer, Solid Waste Management (SWM) confirmed that the agreement was not ready and that the contractor, United Phosphorus Limited (UPL), is yet to install a composting machine to process the waste. “They [UPL] are compacting the waste, ensuring there is no odour or fire. Processing will happen once the lease agreement is signed,” Patil said.
Patil said the contractor cannot import the composting machine without the land lease agreement, which the state is still studying.
Almitra Patel, waste management expert and member of the Supreme Court’s committee on SWM, said, “In India, paying tipping fees before setting up a compost plant is like rewarding them for an unlawful activity.”
A senior civic official said the BMC did not wait for the agreement to be signed because it was under pressure to start the project. “There was a contempt petition against us in the high court. So we had to start work immediately.”
Waste management experts are calling this a “waste of public money”. “Why pay them Rs 18 crore for doing what the BMC was already doing?” S.R. Maley, solid waste management expert and member of the high court committee on SWM, asked. Patil said the BMC had to pay UPL because it had started creating infrastructure on the site. The contractor gave the BMC a guarantee of only Rs 5 crore although the civic body had already paid more than thrice the amount.
The BMC’s decision to hand over the Deonar dumping ground for partial scientific closure in July 2009 had created a row with the Standing Committee initially rejecting the proposal for being too expensive.