March 5, 2021 12:53:44 am
The BMC has decided to wind up its ambitious Water Distribution Improvement Programme project that was launched to provide round-the-clock supply to Mumbai.
The Rs 275-crore project was launched with much fanfare in 2014 to work towards improving water networks and phase-wise starting of 24-hour supply in all areas.
According to officials of BMC’s hydraulic engineer department, contractor Suez Environment India Private Limited filed for arbitration against the civic body. While only about 20 per cent project work has been completed, its five-year deadline had ended in July 2019. The BMC had given an extension of one year to the project but the contractor had refused to continue, said an official.
The official added that for 24-hour uninterrupted supply, the contractor had asked BMC to provide about 30 per cent additional water for the entire city. Currently, BMC supplies 3,900 million litre of water to Mumbai daily.
However, officials said that it is not possible to provide additional water, as no new source of water has been created in recent past. Following this, the contractor has expressed its inability to complete the project.
“Last year, due to Covid-19 pandemic, nothing much has progressed. Before the end of the extended deadline, the contractor sent us a notice of arbitration claiming that Rs 100 crore has to be paid to it, as it has incurred expenses while executing the project. The hearing on arbitration is yet to take place,” said an official.
Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects) P Velrasu said, “The contractor claims that it has completed his part of the agreement. We are reviewing the progress.”
Since its inception, the project has been under scanner for its slow pace of work. While corporators have also raised the issue, last year, the Comptroller Auditor General had rapped the BMC over little progress in the project.
Under the project, the BMC has set a target of achieving 10 services, including GIS (geographic information system) mapping of all water networks, survey of slum connections, quality assurance, consumer survey, setting up call centre for consumers, asset registration and introduction of leakage detection system.
In these five years, as part of a pilot project, H West ward (Bandra, Khar Road and Santacruz) and T ward (Mulund) were to get 24-hour water supply.
Officials said that till date, BMC has paid the contractor about Rs 47 crore for the work they have executed. “For delay and not fulfilling the contract clause, the civic body has imposed about Rs 1 crore fine on the contractor,” said another official.
Officials said the project has not entirely failed and has led to improvement in water supply in H West and T wards.
“In Mulund, three zones get 24-hour supply and one zone gets 19-hour supply. In H West ward, while two zones get 24-hour supply, in one zone, supply has increased from four hours to 13 hours. In two zones, it has gone up from three hours to six hours. In these two wards, GIS mapping and installation of a leak detection system have been completed. Also, there is improvement in slum pockets in both wards,” said an engineer from the department.
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