The Kochi Corporation’s haste in paying around `2 crore bills towards its e-governance project even before its implementation has raised some eyebrows. The project has not been officially inaugurated by the Corporation, let alone completed.
The Corporation has paid 25 per cent of the bills after the TCS reportedly completed the work of key services under the ‘first two modules’ of the `8-crore e-governance project. However, sources pointed out that the work is yet to be completed. It is not clear whether the Corporation has assessed the claims of the company in an independent and scientific manner.
According to the agreement on terms of payment between the Corporation and the company, the payment for ‘module one’ could only be awarded if it has gained approval for successfully completing the prototype of the e-governance mission such as ‘system requirement specification document, training plan, data digitisation plan, corporation portal development’ of the e-governance project.
It is learnt that the company is yet to complete one or two works under module 1, and the civic body has paid around `81 lakh to TCS for it. For the ‘module 2’, the civic body is liable to make payment only if the company has completed 50 per cent of ‘successful installation, test and deployment’ of services such as setting up of a health management system, revenue management system, general administration system, engineering management system and scheme monitoring system. In addition, according to the agreement, the company is also liable to set up an e-governance call centre and to update the Corporation portal with the inclusion of above applications. But the company is still to complete hardware installation, officer training and other works under the head.
By sanctioning bills of module 2, even though the TCS is running on a delay of one year to set the project live, it has got approximately 25 per cent payment for the project. "This kind of free-wheeling could reduce the liability of the company to complete the project effectively. It is also not clear whether the civic body has put up any clause for assessing the liability for the delay," said IT expert V K Adarsh.
The story doesn’t end there. It is learnt that the company has also submitted for approval the bills for successfully completing 50 per cent of the services mentioned in the third module of the project.
Huge projects such as geographic information system (GIS) have to completed in Module 3. However, this has not put off the Corporation from sanctioning the TCS bills.
The opposition have alleged vested interests as the Corporation is yet to sanction the bills of civil contractors. The JNNURM-funded project was launched in 2007. The TCS was hired in March 2011 for implementing it within a year. It will be Scrutinised, says Mayor.
Kochi: Responding to the issue, Mayor Tony Chammany said that the agency’s service will be thoroughly scrutinised before the final payment. “The work will be thoroughly scrutinised before awarding the final payment. We will cross-check whether the part-time payments were made as per the contract,” said the Mayor.
No Anomalies, Says TCS
Meanwhile, TCS authorities of Kochi Corporation claimed that there was no anomaly. “We have received the payment after completing 50 per cent of the first two modules as per the contract agreement. The third party tests of some of the works are on,” said Reshmi, the project manager at TCS.
The authorities concerned of the civic body pleaded ignorance. “I don’t know. I am new to the office, but I will check the files,” said Sabu S JNNURM project officer. The JNNURM IT officer also responded in a similar way. Corporation Secretary P M Francis who signed the bills, was not available for comment. Additional Secretary Anuja was also not available.
Opposition to protest
Opposition councillor Mahesh Kumar said, “The details of the payment brought out hints at the possibility of a scam. We will take up the issue.”