A drain overflows near Brahman Dharmshala at Upper Bazar, Ranchi, on Thursday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The dream of Ranchi as a hygiene haven will remain just that — a dream — at least for some more time.
The big-budget, ambitious plan to realign the capital’s shoddy network of sewers and drains, which had been hanging fire for four years over a litany of contentious issues including “foul play” in selection of agency, is back to square one apparently because the detailed project report (DPR) is incomplete.
The Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) had roped in Meinhardt Singapore Pvt. Ltd for preparing the DPR. The agency submitted it in August, but the state urban development department detected loopholes, which means the report cannot be sent to the Centre for approval and release of funds under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
State urban development secretary Nitin Madan Kulkarni confirmed the DPR was inadequate as it had overlooked a sewerage and drainage plan for the city’s periphery.
“The focus of the DPR, forwarded to us by the RMC, is only on the capital. It does not include plan for fringe areas of the city. We are returning the DPR and the civic body will have to rectify the mistake and send it to us again,” Kulkarni said.
Among the places inadvertently ignored in the DPR are Namkum, Kanke, Ratu, Doranda and Booty More.
RMC chief executive officer Vinay Kumar Choubey said they would follow the urban development department’s instructions and rework the report. “We will draw up a fresh blueprint for the project with the help of the agency and send it to the state government,” he said, but remained non-committal on when that might happen.
Singapore-based Meinhardt was selected by the state to prepare the DPR of the elaborate drainage and sewerage system through a tender in 2006 and Rs 25 crore was fixed as its consultancy fee. The civic body paid Rs 14 crore after Meinhardt started work.
However, the project remained jinxed since inception. First, the government faced favouritism charges for selecting Meinhardt and, in 2007, the Assembly constituted a committee, headed by former BJP MLA Sarayu Roy, to look into the matter. The panel submitted a report, confirming loopholes in the selection process.
Meinhardt, in the meantime, prepared the DPR and asked the civic body to clear its remaining fee of Rs 11 crore, but the latter could not do the same since the controversy had not been settled. The company sought the intervention of Jharkhand High Court. On April 25 this year, the court asked the state government to clear the dues.
Later in August, the DPR, which estimated the cost of the revamped sewerage and drainage to be Rs 1,800 crore against the initial Rs 1,145 crore, was submitted to the civic body.
Is our capital going down the drain?