Bengaluru Sewage Board orders inquiry into unfair practices by its engineers

By S Lalitha  |  Express News Service  |   Published: 17th July 2017 03:37 AM  |  

Last Updated: 17th July 2017 09:10 AM  |   A+A-   |  

Image used for representational purpose.

BENGALURU: The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has decided to stop granting provisional approvals for new constructions in the city which do not have Sewage Treatment Plants and rain water harvesting systems in place. This follows an uproar last week by the Plumbers Association over an approval being given for a 36-storeyed structure on Old Madras Road without these facilities, mandated by the state government.

Board chairman Tushar Girinath has now ordered an inquiry into the alleged underquoting of pro-rata charges (one-time payment for water and sanitary connections) by BWSSB engineers and for laying of feeder pipelines from the main distribution line to the apartment complex comprising 1,600 flats.

Pashmina Waterfront, built by Pashmina Developers, on Old Madras Road in Bhattarahalli was in the eye of a storm after it was given online approval by top BWSSB officials for water and sanitary connections. The communication, which can be viewed internally, created a furore, particularly because the local BWSSB officials who carried out the inspection of the premises had clearly specified that RWH and STP facilities were yet to be completed.

Documents accessed by Express reveal no usage of the word ‘provisional’ anywhere. CEO of Pashmina Developers Harsha said, “I am yet to receive any communication regarding approval from the BWSSB.”

Meanwhile, a video clipping of the BWSSB Plumbers Association General Secretary Subbanna accusing top officials of indulging in malpractice to accord the sanction hurriedly to the builder within one day (May 24), is doing the rounds among BWSSB staff.

“The online facility is being misused by a few top officials. Will you give us contractors sanction as fast as you have given to builders?” he is heard questioning in the video.

Two officials with technical expertise independently confirmed to Express that the prices quoted for the connections were clearly off the mark.

“The pro-rata charges have been given as Rs 9 crore but it could cost at least Rs15 crore. Similarly, the cost of the feeder line from the BWSSB distribution line to Pashima Waterfront could cost at least Rs 4 crore. But the rate given to the builder is Rs 20 lakh,” an official pointed out. “It clearly is a loss of nearly `10 crore to BWSSB, going by these rates,” he added.

The BWSSB chairman insisted, “We have not sanctioned the connection, but only given approval.” The RR number and meter are given only after all the infrastructure is in place. “We have always given this kind of approval in advance as it helps them ready the pro-rata payment which runs into crores in the case of multi-storeyed apartments.”

Girinath assured Express that this kind of “provisional approval” will be discontinued immediately. “I have also ordered an inquiry by Chief Engineer (Cauvery) into it.”

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