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Water project delayed by two years

It will be another two years before Ranchi residents can enjoy smooth water supply.

A new water supply system, which was supposed to be ready by this November, can now be completed only by the end of 2015, that too if everything goes according to the revised plan.

This emerged at a meeting on Monday, where chief secretary R.S. Sharma reviewed the progress of the project under the Centre’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Sharma asked the drinking water and sanitation department to present the revised estimate before the state cabinet for approval after being informed that the contractor executing the project had been blacklisted and hence, work is suspended at the moment.

Secretary of urban development department A.K. Singh, who attended the meeting along with officials of other departments, also informed the chief secretary that according to the new detailed project report (DPR), the current execution cost was more the earlier estimate and the state government needed to provide the additional funds.

“The total expenditure has shot up to Rs 379 crore against the earlier estimate of Rs 288 crore. However, blacklisted firm Hyderabad-based IVRCL, which left work midway, had bagged the contract at Rs 234 crore only,” joint secretary in the management cell of drinking water and sanitation department Umesh Mehta told The Telegraph.

“As Rs 288 crore was approved by the Union urban development ministry under JNNURM, the state needs to pump in over Rs 90 crore against the revised cost. For that, chief secretary has directed us to obtain a cabinet approval,” he added.

Last month, the department floated a tender to rope in a fresh company to complete the project after holding a pre-qualification meeting with prospective bidders. The last date to bid is December 31.

“Whichever company bags the contract to execute the remaining part of the project, will get 21 months to complete it. So the project is expected to be complete by the end of 2015 only,” Mehta said.

IVRCL Limited, which had bagged the project in 2010 and was supposed to finish it by September 2012, could complete a little over 50 per cent work.

According to Mehta, many new structures have been added to the revised plan for the water supply scheme keeping in mind the population growth till late 2030s. The length of the pipeline will now be around 450km, while the initial plan had proposed a little over 300km.

The new detailed project report also includes a pump house, boundary wall, HT (high-tension) electric connection from Jharkhand State Electricity Board etc.

IVRCL, which had been roped in for rural electrification projects in several parts of the state, came under the scanner for allegedly bribing officials during chief minister Madhu Koda’s tenure between 2006 and 2008.

Yet, in 2010, the drinking water and sanitation department selected it for executing the water supply scheme as it had quoted the lowest bid. But work was slow and the government slapped a showcause notice on the company in November 2012.

However, IVRCL managed to get a deadline extension till November 2013. But with the project failing to pick up pace, the government finally decided to blacklist the company in July this year.

The meeting was also attended by additional chief secretary of drinking water and sanitation department Sudhir Prasad, engineer-in-chief Shardendu Narayan, finance secretary A.P. Singh and chief executive officer of Ranchi Municipal Corporation D. Panda among others.