Guwahati, Friday, August 10, 2018
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Financial irregularities cast shadow on four water supply projects
AJIT PATOWARY
 GUWAHATI, Aug 9 - Rampant financial irregularities, besides mismanagement, are one of major factors that have feared to have marred the prospect of the four under-construction Guwahati Water Supply Projects.

S Venkatesan, former Managing Director (MD) of the Guwahati Metropolitan Drinking Water and Sewerage Board (GMDWSB), which is popularly known as the Guwahati Jal Board, has, in a letter (Letter No. GMDWSB/PF/Confdl/2018), to the Principal Secretary of the Guwahati Development Department (GDD) on June 13, 2018, mentioned in detail about the corruption in GMDWSB. Venkatesan had quit the job on July 18, 2018.

He alleged that he had to quit his job in the face of a hostile atmosphere created to make his stay uncomfortable in the GMDWSB by those involved in excess payments made to the contractors and the payments made without the approval of variation orders.

He claimed that he had detected the nefarious act of laying less thick MS pipes against the payments made for the pipes of higher thickness in the JICA-assisted Guwahati South West Water Supply Project.

Venkatesan, who was talking to this newspaper, said all these irregularities took place before his joining the GMDWSB in September 2017.

He alleged that under the contract package C#4 in the JICA-assisted GWSP under Loan Number ID-P 201, MS pipes of 1500mm diametre×10mm thickness were laid as the pumping main, against the design and approved drawing, which specified the thickness of the pipes for the pumping main as 16mm.

During the period between November 2015 and February 2016, when the work was in progress in the absence of the Project Management Consultant (PMC), the contractor M/S GECPL had laid pipes of 1500mm diametre x 10mm thickness at the Joypur hilly area. The contractor's IPC-19 was scrutinised and payment was recommended by the then chief supervising officer (technical) and the then assistant engineer of the PIU. The payment against this work was made on December 17, 2015.

Venkatesan said he visited the site on June 11, 2018. While checking the thickness, it was found that the thickness was only 10mm against the stipulated 16mm. “Had the irregularity not been detected in advance, it would have led to bursting of the entire pumping main from Kharghuli to Ramsha Hill at the time of commissioning and a major disaster would have occurred,” he said.

Excess payment to the tune of Rs 74,28,855 was also made for the inlet arrangement in the Geeta Nagar Reservoir No. 1 on January 30, 2016. This excess payment was detected in May 2018 and the excess amount was recovered from the contractor on June 5, 2018. However, the interest loss on this excess payment remained to be recovered, he said.

An excess pro rata payment to the tune of Rs 4,92,840.48 was also made to the contractor engaged for detailed design of process and hydraulics based on the recommendation of the then chief supervising officer (technical) and the then assistant engineer of the PIU. This excess payment was recovered on May 4, 2018 at his instance.

Excess payment of Rs 1,60,60,934 was also made for supply of ductile iron (DI) pipes of various diameters to the contractor firm M/S Jindal Saw Ltd on the basis of the recommendations of the then PMC M/s Louis Berger.

An excess payment of Rs 43 lakh was made to M/s IVRCL without the approval of rate and variation orders for the Non-BOQ item.

Venkatesan said following his detection of these scams, a lot of vested interests started damaging his reputation so as to create a hostile atmosphere for him, fearing that his continuation in the project would lead to unearthing of a lot of scams. Despite all these, Venkatesan said he was trying his level best to commission the Guwahati South West Water Supply Project and partially commission the Guwahati South Central Water Supply Project by December this year.

But, the developments were such that between June 13 and July 16, 2018, he had to ask the State government twice to relieve him from his post and finally on July 18, 2018, he left Guwahati, duly informing all those concerned, he added.

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