The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation runs an annual bill of Rs 66 lakh for chlorination of the water that is supplied to residents through its tubewells. And Rs 17 lakh is the annual bill of the salaries paid to tubewell operators.
During recent checks,MC Commissioner G S Ghuman,however,found that no chlorination was being done at most of the tubewells. At many places,even the infrastructure required for the process was not in place. On the other hand,it was found that the tubewell operators,who are supposed to be paid Rs 3,100 per month according to MC records,were not getting more than Rs 1,000 at a few locations. The operators were also found to be paying rent to the contractor to be allowed to live in the tubewell rooms constructed by the MC.
So,where does all the money go? After the checks conducted by Ghuman,the contractor Aabna Builders was in the line of fire. It has been asked to explain the case,but is yet to face any punitive action.
Ghuman says: I will take up the case in the next Finance and Contract Committee meeting to cancel the contract. The contractor is not providing proper services of maintaining the tubewells. There is,however,no information on when this meeting will be held. According to sources,the contractor is close to Mayor Hakam Singh Giaspura,because of which he is being sheltered.
The MC runs more than 700 tubwells in the city,which are being maintained by this builder. For 460 tubewells,operators have been appointed while the rest are operated by MC staff.
Apparently to avoid the commissioners interference the next time,the mayor recently formed a committee comprising Assistant Commissioner Vinod Sharda and Superintending Engineer (Building and Roadways) Dharam Singh to look after the award of contracts for tubewells and their maintenance in the future.
No member from the Operation and Maintenance Cell of the MC finds a place in the committee though it is purely a subject of the cell.
Ghuman confirmed that such a committee had been formed. He said: I will continue my surprise checks,because it is our duty to see residents get clean water in supply. I am sure the Finance and Contract Committee will cancel the contract. The mayor was not available for comment.