BWSSB on a sticky wicket over 'consultancy funding'

BWSSB on a sticky wicket over 'consultancy funding'

BWSSB on a sticky wicket over 'consultancy funding'

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has spent Rs 425.75 crore for consultancy services for the Rs 3,383-crore Cauvery IVth Stage, II Phase project, so as to get funds from a Japanese funding agency, a city-based NGO has claimed.

The People’s Campaign for Right to Water (PCRW) says that the amount was spent on a Japanese firm, an UK firm and some local consultants. 

The expenditure on the project, completed almost an year ago, comprised Rs 2,700 crore on the water component. The rest was spent on other components such as sewerage lines, sewage treatment plant, unaccounted water expenditure, distribution, slum development and miscellaneous information system.

The BWSSB officials claim that the board is yet to receive about Rs 1,600 crore from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), thanks largely to the benefits accrued due to the fluctuating exchange rate.

While the water board is busy calculating on how much money it has to get from the JICA, documents accessed under the Right To Information (RTI) Act by the members of the PCRW show that the BWSSB might have succumbed to the conditions laid down by the JICA. 

The PCRW members have stated that the BWSSB gave the consultancy job to a Japanese Company Nippon Jogesuido Sekkei Co Ltd, UK-based Mott McDonald Ltd and Mumbai based TCE Consulting Engineers Ltd. Eshwarappa, member of the PCRW, said, “While the local consultants worked for pittance, the foreign consultants made a killing. Almost one-eighth of the funds earmarked for the projects was spent for the consultancy.”

According to a copy of the MoU, the BWSSB had entered with the three consultancy firms, shows that the nine international professionals would be paid Rs 131.80 crore as remuneration over a period of 76 months starting from 2007. The BWSSB would bear other expense of Rs 145.88 crore such as local conveyance, domestic travel cost, their accommodation, 'miscellaneous and other specific cost, survey and geo-technical investigation and other related works.

On the other hand, 69 local professionals would be paid Rs 46.44 crore. The range of money paid per month to the local consultants range from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 76,000. Further analysis show that 12 local consultants would get a tad more than Rs 2 lakh.

A senior BWSSB engineer refuted the charges. He wondered how the PCRW arrived at an astronomical figure of Rs 425.75 crore.

A chief engineer rank officer told Deccan Herald, “The total amount earmarked for consultancy was Rs 146 crore, of which Rs 106 crore has been paid.” These consultancy services was part of the agreement BWSSB entered into with JICA, said the engineer.Kshitij Urs of PCRW dubbed the expenditure on consultancy as ‘Aid politics in which the victim is transparency.’

“It is a burden on people,” said Urs. He added that such costly projects are conceived and materialised without any discussion with people.

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