Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Rs 1,000cr Maharashtra irrigation projects had no tenders - TOI
Rs 1,000cr Maharashtra irrigation projects had no tenders
MUMBAI: The state water resources department awarded additional works amounting to hundreds of crores to irrigation contractors across the state without calling for fresh tenders between 2000 and 2006. In many projects, these additional works were worth two to three times the cost of the original contract. The department has been under the control of the Nationalist Congress Party for over a decade.
New documents accessed by TOI from state irrigation corporations show additional works totalling over Rs 400 crore during this period. But government sources said the actual figure till 2009-10 could exceed Rs 1,000 crore.
As an example, a contractor selected to build a 20-km-long canal would later be granted additional work for another 15km by the department instead of inviting fresh bids.
Official papers procured by opposition leader Vinod Tawde reveal these additional works were sanctioned under the garb of clause 38 of the tender condition. It allowed the department to award additional work to the existing contract without calling for a fresh tender. But these extra works have to be within the scope of the existing contract and most of them were not. (Clause 38 was scrapped last year by the state after the irrigation scam was exposed by TOI).
In the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC), additional works amounting to Rs 217.14 crore were attached to the original contracts worth Rs 340.18 crore. This pertained to only the special project zone of the corporation.
MKDVC has another zone too, hence the total amount may be much more. It is alleged that an officer who was then posted to the MKVDC later played a major role in preparing the controversial white paper on irrigation last year.
In the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC), additional works worth Rs 78.41 crore were attached to the original contracts amounting to Rs 112.45 crore. Another Rs 41.52 crore was attached to the original work worth Rs 59 crore.
Interestingly, the original works of Rs 112.45 crore was also found to have been awarded without inviting tenders.
The water resources department purportedly put forward a bizarre logic in support of not inviting fresh bids for additional works, claiming it saved the department extra cost and time.
But technical experts debunked this claim. "It is not possible to conclude on savings when a tender is never called. The contractor at a later stage claims price escalation for such attached works under the pretext of inflation and rising costs. Ultimately, the so-called savings are wiped away,'' they said.
If the tenders had been called it would have led to competition and thus saved public money. Just assuming a possible saving without calling a tender is absurd. Moreover, the logic of saving time in case of tender process is also laughable. If such logic would be applied in every department then there would be no tenders and the government would end up awarding tenders based on whims and fancies,'' said sources.
* Krishna Project in MKVDC
1. Original contract: Construction of earthwork and structures at Aarfal canal; km 143-144 awarded in 2004-05 for 1.56 crore
Additional work: Ditto at km 150 to156 for Rs 7.19 crore in May 2005
2. Krishna project
Original contract: Construction of earthwork and structures at Aarfal canal km 139 to150 for Rs 1.27 crore.
Additional work: Ditto at km 157 to 167 for Rs 7.11 crore
3. VIDC project
Original work: Gosikhurd left bank canal civil work (6.7 km) for Rs 2.32 crore
Attached work: Construction of earthwork and structures at Gosikhurd left bank canal km 15 to 29 for Rs 3.17 crore
* What is clause 38?
After a contract is awarded a situation may arise wherein the quantity of work to be executed may be more than the estimated quantity in the tender. For example when the work of excavation is carried out for pile foundation, it may transpire that the actual excavation is much deeper than the estimated quantity. In such a case, clause 38 of the tender is invoked; the quantity along with proportionate amount is increased and attached to the existing contract without calling a fresh tender.
* What went wrong and how clause 38 was abused?
The water resources department awarded additional work even when its scope was beyond the original contract work. No rule supports this decision and hence, it is illegal.
- Nauzer K Bharucha, TNN | Oct 7, 2013