The five-month delay in commissioning the Southern pumping station, because of a row between mayor-in-council member Mala Roy and civic engineers, has cost the civic authorities Rs 5 crore extra, paid to its contractor on account of cost escalation.
According to the civic projects and development department, Roy had blocked the laying of outlet pipelines through her area, saying that the low-lying areas adjacent to Tolly’s Nullah get flooded during high tide. If several million gallons of run-off water were poured into it by the pumping station, a population of 30 thousand would be marooned. She forced the contractor to suspend work.
The project was drawn up by the Trinamul Congress civic board to give relief from waterlogging to about a lakh of people living in the Lok Sabha constituency of Mamata Banerjee. It was flagged off on June 7, 2002, and the contractor was given 24 months to commission the pumping station, with a stipulated capacity to drain out four thousand gallons of accumulated rainwater per second.
“The contractor, Mecon, has informed us that the total project cost will be Rs 25 crore, instead of Rs 20 crore quoted by it earlier, if the firm is to complete the project by June 2004,” mayor Subrata Mukherjee said on his return from Honolulu on Sunday evening.
“After pipelines have been laid for about four km, the project has come to a halt on Sadhu Taracharan Road as local councillor Mala Roy is not allowing the excavation of the 120-metre-long road,” alleged engineers in the project and development department of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).
According to the design, the water is to pour into Tolly’s Nullah through Sadhu Taracharan Road.“Digging the road will leave residents stranded for about four months,” Roy reasoned. Besides, two water mains and a sewerline already run under this narrow road. A new pipeline will leave no room for the existing utility lines. “Didi (Mamata) is aware of the problem,” Roy said.