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Tardy civic body lets go bonanza pipe offer

What the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) loses is the Kerala government’s gain. While the CMC sat for seven months on a file, containing a lucrative offer of buying cast iron stock at slashed rates, the Kerala government grabbed the opportunity and walked away with the stock.

Just before closing down its Kulti unit, the Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO) had approached the CMC to take over its dead stock of cast iron pipes, worth a few crores, and use it for development work.

An opportunity that would have made the cash-strapped civic body richer by at least Rs 3 crore, as the IISCO offered to sell the entire inventory at market rates of 2001. But the CMC sat on the file for about seven months and brought the matter to the notice of mayor Subrata Mukherjee only last week.

Mukherjee promptly sent two civic engineers, Bibhas Maity and Tapas Bose, to Kulti to inspect the inventory and strike a deal, as the CMC needs around 28-km-long cast iron pipes of diameters ranging between 200 mm and 700 mm for the four booster stations coming up in the city.

But the late response made all the difference. The CMC engineers had to be content with only 10 per cent of their requirement, as almost all the dead stock of pipes had already been cleared away by the water supply department of Kerala and the CMDA.

The CMC took home only Rs 30 lakh after buying 2.8-km-long dead stock of 700-mm cast iron pipes. According to approximate estimates, the civic coffers would have swelled by about Rs 4.2 crore had the CMC authorities procured their total requirement of 28-km-long cast iron pipes from the Kulti unit in time.

The CMC is now placing an order for 2.8-km-long, 700-mm- diameter cast iron pipes for the Bagmari booster station, being constructed at a cost of Rs 1.2 crore. The price is Rs 1,500 less per metre than the lowest price quoted by other suppliers.

IISCO’s Kulti unit was shut down in March and since then, the dead stock of pipes and other materials has been lying in the stackyard for stock sale. The IISCO authorities have, however, been requested to assess the stock position to ascertain the quantity of pipes it can supply.

The CMC procures cast iron pipes from SAIL, Tata Steel, Electro Steel and Kesoram. IISCO, too, had supplied pipes to the CMC earlier. According to mayor-in-council member (water supply) Sovan Chatterjee, the Kulti unit of IISCO is an ISO-9002 company and, hence, the CMC has no problems in procuring dead stock from there.

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