An underground sewerage project of Ambattur Municipality that was plagued by delays and witnessed mid-course changes has come in for adverse observations from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

Scrutiny of records show the Municipality, in November 2003, “awarded the contract without firming up the location of the terminal pumping station and arrangement for conveyance of sewage to Sewage Treatment plant (STP),” a CAG report said. The report on local bodies for the year-ended March 2012 was tabled in the recent session of the Assembly.

The cost of the underground sewerage scheme, sanctioned by the State government in November 2001, was Rs.39.60 crore.

The Municipality entrusted the Phase-I work, comprising collection system, sub-pumping stations and house service connections, to Nagarjuna Constructions Company Ltd (NCCL) in September 2004 at a contract value of Rs.21.37 crore. The firm completed, in November 2007, a portion of the work valuing Rs.9.83 crore.

“Due to delay in handing over of lands and consequent demand of higher rates by the contractor for the balance works that were to be executed beyond the agreement period of May 2007, the Phase-I work was foreclosed in November 2007,” the report said.

In September 2009, the balance work of Phase-I was entrusted by the Municipality to CMWSSB (Chennai Metrowater), which in turn, awarded the work for a value of Rs.41.31 crore in June 2010 to the single same bidder NCCL. Though the work was scheduled for completion in July 2012, there was poor progress due to change of design and introduction of three sub-pumping stations at an additional cost of Rs.8.91 crore.

Phase-II works involving construction of terminal pumping station at Karukku and laying of pumping main to Kodungaiyur STP were proposed in July 2003. CMWSSB was to execute these too. While the work was underway, CMWSSB decided to convey the sewage to Koyambedu STP instead of Kodungaiyur. Also, it changed the terminal pumping station from Karukku to Korattur. Revised Phase-II works commenced in June/October 2007 and were completed in August 2009 at a cost of Rs. 7.55 crore.

Describing the originally proposed alignment of the pumping main in between two water mains as “ill-conceived”, the CAG said it resulted in abandoning of pipes laid for 1.050 km at a cost of Rs.17.43 lakh under Phase-I. Further, pipes supplied at a cost of Rs.21.50 lakh could not be used as a result of change in STP plan.

The report said due to delay in completion of Phase-I, completed Phase-II works could not be optimally put to use. Only 2-3 mld of sewage was pumped in 2012 as against the estimated 5.8 mld.

The delay, the government in its response in January this year said, was mainly on account of the delay in identification of terminal and sub-pumping station sites and location of STP. It said the local body failed to firm up the location of terminal pumping station and arrangement for conveyance of sewage to the STP.

The reply, the CAG report, said not acceptable as identification of sties for STP and pumping stations were pre-requisites for taking up the schemes.

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