The Kerala Water Authority (KWA), when it comes to execution of projects over the last couple of years, seems to have found a new engine, one that is now helping it race through procedural bottlenecks.
And for the public, this, gradually, portends faster connections, faster grievance redressal, and better services.
A few tweaks to the system, including the ongoing introduction of e-tendering, has seen the project implementation come down from 15 years to three years, with some projects such as the recently inaugurated 10 MLD drinking water and supply scheme at Vizhinjam being finished in a record 14 months as well.
According to Ashok Kumar Singh, Managing Director, KWA, the decentralisation of decision-making powers to some extent, the e-tendering and initiatives such as the Project Status Alert System (PASK), had helped the slow but steady change in the manner in which projects were implemented.
The speed at which projects had been tendered, scrutinized and awarded had, in fact, helped the KWA achieve another milestone.
The utility’s annual Plan expenditure, which was a mere 38.06 per cent in 2010-2011, rose to 58.40 per cent in 2011-2012 and in 2012-2013, shot up to 98.53 per cent. This, according to Mr. Singh, was no mean achievement for a utility that, prior to 2010, had rarely seen Plan expenditure beyond 40 per cent.
There were ‘after-effects’ too. The Centre, under the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission, had granted Rs.145.95 crore in 2012-2013.
Appreciating the progress of the projects, the Centre recently granted an additional Rs.99.70 crore as well, taking the total of Central assistance to Rs.245.65 crore against the Rs.118.60 crore that was granted in 2011-2012.
“This year, we are targeting 150 per cent expenditure,” says Mr. Singh, who adds that the number of projects to be completed this year was above 100 across the State. This could be possible because of the speed at which works are awarded, he says, pointing out that in 2010-11, 50 works were awarded. In 2011-2012, this rose to 165 works and in 2012-2013, this shot up to 400, excluding the works awarded at the Chief Engineer’s level.
Piped water for more
“This has encouraged competition among contractors as well in many parts of the State. Now we are focussing on revenue generation, better monitoring on collection of fees and giving connections on a target basis. If the projects are completed fast, we can extend piped water facility to more people,” Mr. Singh says. The efforts to improve user interfaces, including PASK, where the public can monitor the status of each project and point out delays, are also on," he adds.