CUTTACK: The implementation of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-funded integrated sanitation project in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar and quality of works undertaken by the executing agencies has come under scanner with President Pranab Mukherjee referring the matter to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
The office of the President has asked the CAG to take action on a petition filed by Cuttack-based organisation Odisha Yuva Manch drawing attention to the inordinate delay in implementation of the project as well as low quality works.
In a memorandum submitted to the President, OYM president Rohan Mohanty had appealed for an audit of the project that has undergone substantial cost escalation from the original estimate of Rs 1200 crore to Rs 1300 crore to Rs 1950 crore in 2013-14.
As per the MoU signed in 2013-14, the project for laying a comprehensive sewerage and drainage network in the Twin City to get rid of problems like sanitation and waterlogging was to be completed within three years. “But even as two years have lapsed, only 30 per cent to 35 per cent has been completed. The quality of works, particularly in Cuttack, is demonstratively poor, raising questions over the longevity and sustainability of the sewerage system”, Mohanty said.
He stated the funding extended by JICA is in the shape of a loan which the Government has to repay over 40 years with an interest of 0.75 per cent. Even as the project cost has escalated to Rs 1950 crore, delay in implementation will increase it even further.
There is no clarity on the repayment pattern by the Government and it is stated that it would be raised from the residents. “It is believed that each household has to pay Rs 200 to Rs 800 towards repayment of the loan over a period of 40 years. Therefore, a comprehensive audit on the actual costs and quality of works is a must,” Mohanty mentioned.
The JICA project involves construction of an integrated sewerage system with underground gravity sewer line of 375 km covering entire Cuttack. Besides, 29 pumping stations and three sewage treatment plants would also be set up. It also entails a complete revamp of the two main storm water channels (MSWCs) covering a length of 23 km.
A recent on-spot assessment by an Assembly Committee had also raised questions over the delay and work quality of the project.