Ulhas water scheme termed "unviable"
By A Special Correspondent
A major consulting engineering firm has termed an ambitious water supply project of the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation as "unviable". The project is located in Ulhasnagar in Thane district of Maharashtra.
Farokh Kanga, Senior Engineer, Macknight Infrastructure P Ltd, Mumbai, which is engaged in the design and supervision of infrastructure projects, told Project Monitor that the tender was the "third version we have seen so far."
UMC has floated a tender for the BOT project that envisages the development of an independent water source, augmentation of the existing water supply system and operation and maintenance of the same. The corporation is currently purchasing 110 mld of water from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation at Rs 7 per 1,000 litres, which it finds "unaffordable and exceptionally high"; hence, the move to develop its own source of water.
Macknight Infrastructure is sceptical about the project for more than one reason. As Kanga explains, "I was the only person at the pre-bid meeting. Besides,
who is going to pay Rs 80 lakh in cash? Not by bank guarantee but by demand draft! The project validity is 180 days and it may be extended. Who is going to tie up Rs 80 lakh in cash for a year in order to bid for this project?"
The company, which has been accredited by the World Bank for these types of works, is unlikely to recommend the UMC project to its clients.
The corporation, through the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran, conducted the pre-feasibility study for the augmentation of the two-phase Ulhasnagar Water Supply Scheme in 2003-04. Work on this scheme is likely to cost Rs 102 crore. About 95 per cent of phase-I costing Rs 18.80 crore has been completed. According to a UMC official, phase-I of the scheme envisages, among other works, the construction of storage capacity of 19 mld of water; of this 13 mld storage capacity is already in use. Phase-II of the project is essentially meant to facilitate the proper utilisation of phase-I of the scheme; it mainly consists of improvements in the distribution system.
(November 16-30, 2004)