MINUTES AFTER UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore announced Rs 152 crore help to the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, half a dozen tenders worth crores were floated by the civic body for “operation and maintenance of public toilets”.
Interestingly, the maintenance of public toilets had become a controversial issue in the past, with a councillor pointing out irregularities and pressing for an investigation before floating the tenders.
The tenders for the toilets were floated at a whopping cost of Rs 2.51 crore even when the UT Administrator had asked the corporation to carry it out in a public private partnership (PPP) mode where the MC’s spending would have been prevented.
The tenders were floated for operation and maintenance of public toilets of ward 4 and 15, 13 and 24 markets worth Rs 36.54 lakh, those in ward 6 and 7 markets worth Rs 36.54 lakh, in ward 14 and 15 at an amount of Rs 31.32 lakh. Similarly, the tenders were floated for work of operation and maintenance of public toilets of sub-division 8 and 14 worth Rs 83.52 lakh, sub-division 20 for 62.64 lakh and sub-division 9 and 15 for Rs 1.14 crore.
Congress councillor Satish Kainth stated that despite the Administrator’s opinion to run the toilets in PPP mode, the corporation bypassed him and went ahead to float these tenders. Kainth had even written to Badnore for an investigation as he smelled “corruption” in the said works.
“I will take up this matter in the House. I was not there in one House meeting and they passed the agenda of operation and maintenance of these toilets. Municipal Corporation has wasted over Rs 150 crore on renovation, construction and maintenance of the same toilets and now going to do again despite clear directions from the Administrator to get the work done through PPP mode to save government funds. Crores of rupees from the empty coffers of Municipal Corporation have been wasted for regular maintenance of these toilets every month,” Kainth said.
In February last year, the Municipal Corporation had floated a tender in the form of RFP in PPP mode wherein the construction, renovation and maintenance of these 300 public toilets were to be done for free by the private company and in lieu they would have been allowed advertising rights on the walls of the public toilets.
However, before the tender was opened, a few complaints were received regarding the terms and conditions of the tender, following which the matter was again referred to the General House which cancelled the RFP after postponing the tender dates for eight times.
“Governor had issued an advisory on October 17 to the Municipal Corporation to continue the said tender in PPP mode only so that the government funds are saved. The same amount which could have been spent through PPP mode will all be incurred by MC now,” he added. “Why is it that the officers do not want to get it done for free and want to splurge the public money?”
A senior officer of the public health division said, “The agenda was passed in the General House itself and only after that, the tenders were floated.”
Landscaping worth lakhs
At a time when roads are the most important work that is to be carried out, the corporation floated tenders for landscaping in sectors 37, 39, 52, 12, 26 and 32 worth over Rs 50 lakh. In sectors 37 and 39 , landscaping worth Rs 35.32 lakh is being done while in Sector 52, landscaping worth Rs 7.78 lakh and in sectors 12, 26 and 32 worth Rs 7.47 lakh will be done.