PATNA: An ambitious water supply project for Patna seems to have been so messed up by Bihar officials that an annoyed Centre has now asked the state government to return its funds sanctioned for the purpose.
Funded under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission, the Rs 548.83-crore project was sanctioned in 2009 and was to be executed by the Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (BUIDCO). Eight years on, sources said, it was not even 10% complete.
Having extended the deadline to complete the project several times in the past, the Centre in February this year wrote to the state urban development and housing department (UDHD) to return the two instalments of funds given to it. In turn, the UDHD has asked the BUIDCO to return the leftover amount by the end of March, the sources said.
“The amount comes to over Rs 100 crore. It has, however, not been returned to the Centre yet,” an official said preferring anonymity.
Bihar principal secretary (UDHD) Chaitanya Prasad admitted the Centre had asked for the refund. “The project will be executed… If not with the money from the Centre, with funds from the state exchequer,” he asserted.
Interestingly, the UDHD has not yet got any nod from the state government to go ahead with the project which involved construction of one overhead service reservoir, or overhead tank, in each of the Patna Municipal Corporation’s 72 wards. Water treatment plants, tube wells and an 800km pipeline network were also planned.
The idea was to supply 24×7 clean tap water to all the households in the state capital.
The sources said tenders were floated by the BUIDCO in 2013, after which Geo Miller and Gammon India were jointly assigned the work. However, they could start constructing only 18 overhead tanks as land could not be made available for the remaining tanks for various reasons.
Worse, the work on even these 18 tanks could not be completed because BUIDCO blacklisted the firms owing to slow pace of work. It also seized their security money to the tune of Rs 66 crore, according to the sources.
UDHD officials now say their first priority is to finish the construction work of 18 overhead tanks. The UDHD has asked the BUIDCO as well as Bihar Rajya Jal Parshad to complete the work dividing the tanks into four groups.