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Sewage system improvement project delayed 20 months; costs triple to Rs.5 billion

By Kavita Patil

       
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A sewage pipe is laid in Koramangala, south-central Bangalore.

BANGALORE (Aug. 14)—Completion of a project to improve Bangalore’s sewage system has been delayed by 20 months, while its cost has almost tripled to Rs.5 billion.

The project, Environmental Action Plan-B, has been delayed due to a conflict between the city corporation, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board. The state government has incurred a massive loss due to the delay.

The plan for rehabilitation and replacement of the existing sewage system, initially estimated at Rs.1.77 billion, aims to improve 70 kilometers of sewage lines across four major valleys and four minor ones in Bangalore.

The plan, unveiled by the BWSSB in 2008, was to have been completed by March.

The project was devised under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Mega City (Bangalore) Developers and Builders Pvt. Ltd. The project originally was divided into eight packages and allotted to several firms.

On June 26, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Kaushik Mukherjee, chief secretary of the Karnataka state government, held a meeting at the Vikas Soudha parliament annex with officials of the BBMP, BWSSB, and other governmental bodies to examine the reasons for the project’s delay.

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Bedding concrete is laid before the installation of a sewage pipe in Koramangala, south-central Bangalore.

A BWSSB official, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said: “There is some delay in the tendering process. The work is difficult in nature, and the response from the firms is very poor.”

According to documents given to The SoftCopy by the BWSSB official
that list all tender packages proposed for the project and their
costs, the total project cost estimation is Rs.4.94 billion.

A BBMP official declined to comment to The SoftCopy about the project.

Funding was a major reason for the project’s delay, the BWSSB official said. Initially, the BBMP provided 50 percent of the finance, but it later withdrew from the project. JICA took the initiative of further funding the project.

According to the scheme, sewer lines were originally proposed to run along the existing lines, which take the form of stormwater drains in most places.
However, the BBMP later suggested shifting the existing lines from stormwater drains and laying them by the side of roads.

The Karnataka state government gave the BWSSB an extension to December 2015 to complete the project.

Expert: Oversight lacking

Infrastructure expert Amrit Pandurangi criticized the delay in the project.

“The conflict between BBMP and BWSSB is not the major reason for the delay,” he said. “The reason is the government doesn’t actually keep an eye on the project once it is implemented. Even if the project is delayed, the amount revised is massive.”

Pandurangi said the Rs.5 billion revised project cost was “not appropriate,” and that the state government should draw up legal documents regarding the work allotted to government bodies to avoid such delays and make them answerable to the state government.

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