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Jal Board working process raises several questions

Staff Reporter

Non-transparent tendering process taking a heavy toll of future plans

NEW DELHI: Though Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has introduced innovative reforms in the Delhi Administration, there is nothing of the sort on her agenda for the Delhi Jal Board which she heads as Chairperson. A non-transparent tendering process is taking a heavy toll of future plans and schemes of the Delhi Jal Board as it struggles to plug leakages and meet the rising demand for water.

Though it is almost five years since the concept of "trench-less technology" was introduced in the Delhi Jal Board for re-laying of sewerage lines, hardly 10 km of sewer lines have been rehabilitated under this regime. This puts on the backburner the plan to repair 50 km of trunk sewer lines. With the controversial 24X7 project given up following strong public resistance and nearly 40 per cent of water going waste and not reaching consumers, a question mark hangs over the way Delhi Jal Board's affairs are being run.

"There is clique of contractors and officials who thrive and survive by catering to each other's interests. A close look at the last six years of tendering and the number of times a tender has been floated and then revoked only to be floated again and then going for a higher price would indicate the kind of nexus prevailing in the Delhi Jal Board. At least nearly Rs. 400 crores has been lost in this whole practise of higher tendering," a senior official remarked.

Such is the state of affairs in the Delhi Jal Board that it is unable to finalise the bidding documents or the terms and conditions of its tenders. Officials point out that one indication of the non-transparent manner of tendering is that separate sets of qualification conditions and documents are floated for works by foreign agencies and for those financed out of government money. Also, terms and conditions of tenders keep on changing each time representations are made by vested interests leaving wide scope for bargaining and for tampering with the various terms and conditions, including use of technology and the cost of the project.

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