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Funds pause over civic sloth

- Centre denies RMC solid waste money

Ranchi, Feb. 23: Want to manage garbage? First, ensure water for your citizens.

That precisely is the Centre’s way to discipline a state so laggard that it cannot put big money to good use and yet likes to hold out its dole bowl for more.

The poor utilisation status of JNNURM funds by the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) has irked the urban development ministry to such an extent that it has decided to release a corpus meant for a solid waste management project only after civic guardians resume and finish a long-pending water scheme.

The task set is Herculean because the RMC last year blacklisted the Hyderabad-based executing firm of the water project for slow progress. Solid waste management too is a distant dream, both for the Centre’s recent funds pause and removal of private partner A2Z.

“We have received a letter from the Union ministry that says additional funds for solid waste management will be granted only after Ranchi’s water supply scheme is complete,” an official of Greater Ranchi Development Agency (GRDA) said. The GRDA is the state-level nodal agency for monitoring and channelising money from the Centre to the state and its urban local bodies for infrastructure revamp under JNNURM.

Details of funds available with GRDA suggest that the RMC used around Rs 132.47 crore of the Rs 197.36 crore already allocated for the drinking water scheme. The ambitious project offers supply solution to the capital’s over 10 lakh present residents and a growing population till the late 2030s.

Tardy pace of the project has escalated costs from an earlier estimate of Rs 288 crore to Rs 379 crore on the present day. While civic bosses removed construction major IVRCL from the job in 2013, neither the RMC nor the drinking water and sanitation department have been able to rope in a new firm so far.

The future of several other JNNURM projects is bleak. And urban transport is among the firsts.

After purchase of 70 city buses each for Ranchi and Dhanbad, and 50 for Jamshedpur, the state authorities perhaps felt their job was done. However, figures suggest that out of Rs 10.50 crore earmarked to streamline public transport, Rs 7 crore has been use and the rest is lying idle for over three years. The RMC’s plan to procure low-floor AC and non-AC buses has been aborted.

The worst report card is in basic services for urban poor (BSUP). Under the scheme, the homeless in Ranchi were expected to get low-cost integrated houses. “Out of the allocated Rs 108.64 crore, only Rs 28.02 crore has been used for the project in RMC areas. This shows the (lack of) seriousness on part of the authorities concerned,” remarked a senior GRDA official.

In case of solid waste management too, the RMC showed the door to A2Z private limited on the ground of inferior cleaning work. The proposal to set up a solid waste processing plant at Jhiri, on the outskirts of Ranchi, started only to be stalled. At present, the RMC has engaged its own employees for cleaning the city. Results are less than satisfying citizens will vouch.

And, as far as an integrated sewerage and drainage system for the capital is concerned, the Centre has recently released Rs 302 crore, but work is again yet to start.

O.P. Shah, the deputy chief executive officer of RMC who looks after implementation of JNNURM projects, conceded that there were problems with various projects. But, he said that a re-tendering process for the water supply scheme based on a fresh estimate was on.

“Also, after removal of A2Z, we have roped in JINFRA for preparing documents for a global tender for solid waste management. It will be floated soon,” Shah added.

The Centre and citizens can play wait and watch.


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