It was a faulty tender that led to the fall of the windmill installed with much fanfare a few days ago. When ‘City Express’ took a look into cause of the mishap, it was revealed that the GCDA had awarded the tender by bypassing the criterion to the company which installed the much-hyped alternative energy source.
The company, ‘United Electricals’, does not meet the eligibility criterion for windmill installation, even those set by the GCDA. The safety of the windmill with the blades weighing about 35 kg set atop the 40-foot tower without any fencing around is a moot question.
The criteria set by the GCDA for eligibility of any tender are that the applicant should have extensive experience in the preparation of structural design, quantity and cost estimation etc for multi-storied or high rise built-ups of all occupancies and other civil or electrical work. The firm should have completed at least five projects in their respective discipline and should submit client certificate as proof; the consultancy should be capable of rendering designs on structure, electrical, sanitary and water supply, sewage treatment plant, fire fighting for all kinds of projects; the annual turnover of the consultancy should not be less than Rs 25 lakh over the last five years and the turnover details should be duly certified by the auditor.
The ‘United Electricals’, a Kollam-based Public Sector Company, chiefly known for making electrical meters and other electrical goods, has not designed or installed a single windmill before. “This is our first windmill assignment,” said company’s technical consultant Harinarayanan.
This violates almost all the eligibility criteria set by GCDA before awarding tenders. Only after the windmill installed at Marine Drive failed to take off did the officials of the company plan to send their engineers to Gujarat for mechanical and design training in windmill installation before commencing any other project.
GCDA Chairman N Venugopal said that the contract was awarded to United Electricals through the proper tender process. “They installed solar panels in front of GCDA complex which work perfectly, so we trusted them. Also, the idea was to install a windmill within a low budget. The United Electricals was the only company which agreed to install the windmills for ` 4lakh.
As the windmill project was a sample test case, the executive committee decided to give award the project to United Electricals as it was a reasonable option. The amount will be given only if the windmill is a success,” said N Venugopal.
But the company said that the tender has been given only on a ‘trial basis’. “We are new to windmill work. It has been clearly stated in the tender that it was given on a trial basis. Legally speaking, we do not have any responsibility if the windmill fails after being handed over to the GCDA,” said the technical consultant of the company.
A week ago, the wings of the windmill had collapsed before it was handed over to the GCDA. Now the windmill has been repaired and the blades are in place.
The expense of the windmill also raises several questions. While the GCDA brags that this is the first windmill to be installed in the state for Rs 3.9 lakhs, the technical team of the company confirms that the Exide-C10 battery installed in the windmill alone costs more than Rs 3 lakh. Even on the mechanical side, the cranes for mount the windmill alone was hired for Rs 64,000 per day.
The officials of the company admit that they are facing severe loss. “It will take anywhere around Rs 7.5 to Rs 10 lakh to complete this project,” said Harinarayanan.They plan to make up the loss with the installation of a windmill at Rajendra Maidan, also by the GCDA. That the company is confident of installing the windmill even though no tender has notified is fishy.
Experts say that studies like micro-sitting are mandatory before installation of windmills. “In windmill designing, basic parameters like wind speed are calculated after studying the proposed site over a significant time period of time,” said C A Babu, a professor with the Electrical Department, Cusat. Babu said the company has installed the windmill at Marine Drive in just two weeks’ time.
However, Venugopal said , “A 48-hour study was conducted by the company and in a model run they generated 10.5 KW of electricity.”
The company officials admitted that the windmill in its present state is a threat to the public. “It is indeed dangerous,” said the technical consultant Harinarayanan. “A proper fencing and lighting are a must to prevent the public from getting close to the windmill. We will do that before handing it over to the GCDA,” he said.