Report points to poor fiscal discipline, incomplete projects

Even after the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) tall claims of having remodelled storm-water drains (SWD) the city continues to get flooded after a spell of heavy rain. This is because most of the works have been executed only in stretches and the projects largely remain incomplete.

This is what the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has noted in its report on local bodies that was released on Thursday. Other than pointing out BBMP’s poor financial discipline, the CAG has stated that the civic body has failed to meet the objective of remodelling of SWD that was taken up under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), and has incurred a loss of several crores.

It has recommended to the BBMP to expedite revenue survey to assess work fronts and complete the remodelling project.

Projects under scanner

The CAG, which took up performance audit of four projects under JNNURM for 2005-12, noted that contractors derived undue benefits in the SWD remodelling projects by “executing items for which abnormally high rates were negotiated,” leading to extra expenditure of Rs. 13.9 crore.

It said rates that had been brought down after negotiation for items were not executed or hardly executed.

“While the expected saving from the reduced rates could have been Rs. 39.42 crore, the actual saving was just Rs. 2.96 crore,” the report said.

The four projects were divided into 15 packages.

While separate tenders were invited for all the packages, the detailed project reports were finalised even before JNNURM was launched. For three packages, the work orders were issued even before administrative approval and technical sanction and prescribed procedures were ignored.

D.J. Bhadra, Principal Accountant General (General and Social Sector Audit), told reporters here on Thursday that nine works costing Rs. 9.03 crore were considered as emergency works as the areas surrounding the primary and secondary SWD were habitually inundated during monsoon. But the projects were taken up after the emergency period. Also, the projects were completed with delays up to 24 months and thus, cannot be categorised as emergency works requiring exemption from tendering.

Mr. Bhadra also noted the BBMP had closed the issue of tender forms 15 days before the last date of receipt of the same.

This, he said, restricted competition and participation. “Only two to three tenders were received for almost all the package works of four valleys.” With the BBMP foreclosing some projects, quite a few were not executed as per estimates.

“Considering the cost of executed items (projects), the audit worked out that they were executed at rates ranging from 34 to 146 per cent above the estimated rates. This indirectly benefitted the contractors and BBMP lost Rs. 35.94 crore.”

The CAG report states many such instances where the BBMP could have avoided extra expenditure amounting to crores, including earthwork excavation by mechanical means in Vrishabhavathi valley when the BBMP claimed it was done manually, deficiencies in agreements and defective estimates in chain-linking fencing work.

More In: Bengaluru