Delhi Jal Board criticised for tardy work

Smriti Kak Ramachandran

The Board had planned to complete de-silting of 51 km of trunk and peripheral sewers by December 2008

“Water utility yet to award contracts for carrying out the works”

“Even if the Board accelerates the speed of work, it will be racing against time”

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Jal Board, which has drawn up elaborate plans to prevent the flow of untreated waste into the Yamuna, is facing criticism for its tardy pace of work. The deadlines set by the Board for completion of work to augment the existing capacity of sewerage networks and de-silting the sewers are fast approaching, but the water utility is yet to award contracts for carrying out the works.

The Board has proposed to enhance the existing capacity of sewage treatment to save the polluted waters of the Yamuna from further deterioration. It has also set time limit to carry out the de-silting and rehabilitation work for 51 km of trunk and peripheral sewers and increase the capacity of sewage treatment plants from 350 MGD to 512 MDG, which is the installed capacity of the STPs in Delhi.

“In the affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on February 11, 2006, the Board said it will complete the de-silting and rehabilitation of 51 km of trunk and peripheral sewers by December 2008, but till date the works have not been awarded,” sources pointed out.

Deadline missed

According the affidavit, the work for the sewer cross connection no. 1, was to be completed by June 2007, a deadline already missed by the DJB.

“The deadline for completion of work on Punjabi Bagh, Jail Road, West Delhi, University Trunk Sewer, Ring Road and North Trunk Sewer is December 2008. If work is yet to begin, how would the deadlines be met,” sources questioned.

The Board had also set itself cut-off dates for getting several STPs working to their full capacity.

“The Najafgarh, Mehruali, Ghitorni and Narela STPs were supposed to be enhanced to their full capacity by December 2007, but the work on this front is also behind schedule,” sources said. There are 17 STPs in the city, which have 512 MGD installed capacity, but only 350 MGD is being utilised and the remaining sewage finds its way into the Yamuna.

For his part, the DJB Chief Executive Officer Arun Mathur allayed fears of not meeting deadlines.

Final stages

He said: “We are in the final stages of awarding work. These issues will be discussed at the next Board meeting. Awarding work takes time, because it has to be thoroughly examined by the technical committees and the Board.”

Sources however claim that even if the Board accelerates the speed of work, it will be racing against time. “The Board has barely 15 months to finish the work. De-silting cannot be done for more than 300 mts to 500 mts per month, during the monsoon period — from July to September the work is abandoned, keeping in mind the safety of workers. Effectively the Board gets about nine months in a year to carry out the de-silting process. Even if three to four firms are employed to carry out the work, they will still require four years to finish the 51 km stretch,” sources said.

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