Both the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) or BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) spent money on repairs of the same toilet blocks in the city, reveals a reply received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
RTI Activist Anil Galgali had filed an application seeking details from the Solid Waste Management department (SWM) about an internal survey of BMC’s execution of Swachh Bharat. The 11 page report received by him under the RTI states that some seats in these toilet blocks were repaired at a cost of Rs 3 lakh to Rs10 lakh and the BMC had spent more than Rs100 crore on repairing toilets that were already repaired by MHADA.
The report says, “Another observation which must be mentioned here is that, in almost 90% of the cases, the entire cost of the purchase order (PO) is paid to the contractor. The estimation of works is reflected in the PO and the quantity of the executed items is exactly equal to the quantity of paid bills. This is next to impossibility in civil engineering practices where the estimate never matches executed quantities, mainly because of inaccuracy in measurements during estimation, to consider which, a 10% addition in estimated cost is considered compulsory. No project in the world in civil engineering domain can boast that the executed quantity is exactly equal to estimated quantity but the impossible feat appears to be achieved obviously due to anaesthesia mentioned above. The issues need serious consideration whether the practice of AE or Executive as the last technical officer to decide the matter without senior engineering hierarchy be allowed to be continued.”
Here are the main observations reported in the Study Report…
- Instead of creating its own assets in the form of community toilet blocks (CTBs), the MCGM is investing in repairing the shabby structures of MHADA.
- There should be an asset code for every repair PO, so as to track the expenditure incurred, and to recover it through the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) developer if any.
- MCGM is spending hundreds of crores in repair every year, which is nearly one-sixth of the asset value of these MHADA constructed toilet blocks (i.e. 60000 seats X 1 lakh=600 crore). It is better to construct new RCC toilets instead of this.
- If we assume 10 litres of sewage per person, the daily sewage generated from the 52 lakh slum dwellers through community toilet blocks comes to around 52,000 cubic litres. In the MHADA constructed toilet blocks, there is an in-scientific disposal of sludge. To treat this sewage is also an obligatory duty of the MCGM. If the excreta are scientifically treated at the source, i.e. in the toilet blocks itself, there is no need to treat this sewage by constructing huge treatment plants.
- If the budgetary provision of repair and new construction are clubbed together, it will amount to Rs250 crore per year. This indicated a necessity for the creation of a separate post of chief engineer to deal with all these works.
- By the creation of a new department, there will be uniformity in the repair and construction works and ambiguities discussed in the report can be eliminated. Also, this will help in providing sustainable sanitation in the slums.
- The ward offices carry out many minor or major civil engineering asset creation or repairs with AW (Maintenance) as the final authority. There are lower level authorities vulnerable to influences from higher echelons like Assistant Commissioner (AC) or Deputy Municipal Commissioners (DMC) and political leaders. These junior level engineers, however, piecemeal take decisions that cost hundreds of crores of rupees, which cannot be checked on technical grounds by senior officers. The SAP system throws a curtain over the issue. A decision has to be taken whether to bring all engineering works under Chief Engineer/DMC (Engineering) for the engineering work.
The study was undertaken to assess the situation after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the Legislative Assembly about the creation of a proper toilet infrastructure in Mumbai.
Quoting from the report, Galgali says in 90% of cases the cost of the actual work is equal to the cost estimates. Interestingly, these toilets are repaired by MHADA also, but the quality of toilets in Mumbai remains as bad as ever. Mumbai’s Swachh Bharat ranking has dropped to 29 from 10 six months ago, mainly due to feedback from the citizens, he added.
Galgali has written to the Maharashtra chief minister seeking an investigation into the matter, across wards in Mumbai, and also appoint a toilet regulatory authority.