Home Dehradun Chamoli STP mishap: All contracts of STPs cancelled

Chamoli STP mishap: All contracts of STPs cancelled

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By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 2 Aug: Waking up after several days, the government has cancelled all the contracts of the contractor responsible for the Chamoli STP mishap and assigned the responsibility of maintaining these to the Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan and Uttarakhand Peyjal Nigam.

Under the Namami Gange project, all the contracts for the 18 Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) being built in Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts for which a Joint Venture Company was in charge have been cancelled on the orders of the government. The decision comes in view of the recommendations of the magisterial inquiry that has recommended cancellation of all contracts of the Joint Venture companies, M/s Jai Bhushan Malik Contractors, Patiala, and M/s Confident Engineering India Pvt Ltd of Coimbatore. The report also recommends blacklisting of the companies concerned. These two companies were in a joint venture contract to construct and operate 18 Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) in districts Chamoli and Rudraprayag.

As per official sources, the contracts have already been cancelled while the process to blacklist these companies has been initiated. The magisterial inquiry has squarely blamed these two companies for the mishap in the Chamoli STP some days ago, where 16 people had died of electrocution as the current had spread all over the plant area due to non-adherence to safety norms.

Now, Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan and Uttarakhand Peyjal Nigam have been asked to take over the operation of all these STPs till a new arrangement is put in place.

It may be recalled that, on 19 July, 16 people had died due to electrocution at the Chamoli STP, while 12 others were injured. After the accident, Jal Sansthan had sent a notice to the company operating the STP, asking it to start the plant within 48 hours, but the company did not do so.

This company had the contract for operating 18 STPs of Chamoli, Nandprayag, Karnaprayag and Rudraprayag for 15 years. Of these, 11 STPs have been transferred to the Jal Sansthan, while seven have been given to the Peyjal Nigam on an interim basis till the new arrangements are in place. After the accident, the government had also initiated action on forfeiting the bank guarantee of Rs 1.10 crores of the company. Officials now claim that this bank guarantee has been forfeited and the amount has been transferred into the account of the Uttarakhand Peyjal Nigam.

Secretary, Drinking Water, Arvind Hyanki has confirmed the cancellation of all the 18 contracts awarded to the joint venture companies. He also claimed that the deficiencies in these STPs are being rectified by Jal Sansthan and the Peyjal Nigam. He stated that it will take a week to start the operation of Chamoli STP, while the rest will be started in two-three days.

He further confirmed that the Jal Sansthan and Peyjal Nigam have been instructed to invite tenders for the selection of a new firm to operate these STPs.

The bigger question, however, is whether any strict action will be taken against the guilty government officials in the departments concerned such as Peyjal Nigam, the Jal Sansthan or the Uttarakhand Power Corporation who ignored the blatant negligence and non-adherence to the mandatory safety provisions and norms at the STP plants. Some junior or middle level officials have been suspended but are likely to get reinstated quietly after some time unless they are also held guilty and handed over the chargesheets.