Middle Vaitarna hydro power project: Consultant fails to prepare report, triggers row between BMC, govt

Rs 60.5 lakh already paid; standing committee okays proposal to end contract

Written by Dipti Singh | Mumbai | Published:October 18, 2017 2:15 am
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The failure of a consultant appointed to prepare a report on setting up the Middle Vaitarna hydro power project has led to another confrontation between the Shiv Sena-run Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the BJP-led state government, as the corporation has already paid a fee of Rs 60.50 lakh to the consultant. The civic body’s standing committee on Tuesday approved a proposal to cancel its contract with the consultant.

Sources said that the project was also a matter of prestige for the civic body. While the BMC was eyeing to bag the ambitious hydro power project, the state government awarded the contract to a private firm, M/s Mahalaxmi Konal Urja Private Limited, which is led by Pune-based builder Avinash Bhosale.

According to the civic officials, the BMC had appointed M/s Trigon Consultants to prepare a feasibility report for the project and implement it accordingly. The consultants were asked to carry out geological and technical survey, prepare financial feasibility report, seek permission from the government and to monitor the project works.

The civic body had appointed Trigon consultants on April 5, 2008 for 48 months. The contract was then extended till June 30, 2013, and further extended twice thereafter. With the consultant not being successful in getting permission from the state government, the BMC had to finally scrap the contract with the consultant and also the ambitious plan of setting up hydropower project at the newly built Middle Vaitarna dam. In the process, it will also have to forgo the Rs 60.50 lakh fee it has spent on the consultant.

While the consultants carried out the first two tasks successfully, it failed to get a go-ahead by the government which, in turn, awarded the work to a private company, M/s Mahalaxmi Konal Urja Pvt Ltd, in 2011. Despite their attempts, the consultants have failed to make the government change its mind and bring the project back to the BMC. A senior civic official said, “We are helpless as the state government has spurned our demand to set up a hydro power project on the Middle Vaitarna dam. Technically, the contract was ours. The state government needs to rethink. Even Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking can chip in in the project. It is unfair that a private firm was chosen over us.”

Besides Rs 60.50 lakh spent on the consultant, BMC has also spent a total of Rs 59.97 crore on basic infrastructure needed for the project. The BMC had completed the construction of the 102.4-metre-high Middle Vaitarna Dam in record time. Water from the down stream of the dam is to be used to generate 50 MW of electricity.

Civic standing committee chairman Ramesh Korgaonkar said, “BMC has spent over Rs 60 lakh on the consultant. The state government sidelined BMC which is the rightful contender for the project, and awarded the contract to a private firm.”

However, the leader of the opposition and Congress corporator Ravi Raja slammed the civic administration for going ahead with the project without the government’s nod. “They should have first taken the state government into consideration and then proceeded with the project works. It is a sheer loss of public money and it smacks of conspiracy.”

dipti.singh@expressindia.com

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