At a time when the Kochi Corporation is reeling under deep fiscal crisis, records show that crores are being spent on cleaning of drains and canals with no accountability whatsoever. Just in October, the Corporation was drained of more than `4 crore in the name of drainage cleaning, sans any monitoring.
According to official estimates, the existing canals should be demarcated and waste materials removed. These ‘earth works’ rarely get done in the Corporation.
For 10 cubic metre of earth works, the Corporation estimate is `1,284. For removing soil, per metre cube, the expense is `179. The rate for foundation work is `5,490 per metre cube. For side wall, the estimate rate is `6,884 and for plastering, the rate is `4,765. But in practice, only a little concreting on the side walls and total plastering are done in the name of canal works. In some cases, only a patch up work is done instead of thorough cleaning. The covering slabs placed above literally cover up everything, including the quality of work from the eyes of the public. Result? The contractor makes windfall profits at the expense of tax payer.
The ‘Works Standing committee’ is supposed to visit the canal site for which applications for renovation have been submitted and conduct an enquiry to verify whether the work is really needed. This is hardly done. However, Works Standing committee chairperson Soumini Jain refuted such allegations.
“Canal and drain cleaning is part of the annual maintenance work of the Corporation. Once a year, all canals and drains must be cleaned using the plan funds. Other works are done according to the request submitted by councillors. This will be done using their division funds. This is important to maintain hygiene in the city,” she said.
She held that both the Health Department and Engineering Department of the Corporation were conducting regular monitoring work related to canal renovation. However, it is learned that almost 19 overseer posts in the Corporation are remaining vacant for the past few months.
The authorities responded that they have informed the matter to the state government and have requested that the posts be filled at the earliest.