PUNE: The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)’s nationally recognised street lights project, implemented under a private-public partnership (PPP), is under the scanner, as the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has pointed out irregularities in the project from tendering to execution. Also, the PMC has received a copy of the CAG report 2017-18.
The civic body had sanctioned the project in 2016. The Smart Street Lighting Project includes replacement of 77,800 conventional street lights with energy efficient LED lights and existing manual-based feeder panels with SCADA-based energy monitor and control panels.
The PMC claimed the project is the first-of-its-kind in a PPP model taken up by any civic body in India, where there is no financial burden on either the PMC or citizens for replacement and maintenance of street lights. All expenditure will be taken care of by the developer, Tata Projects Ltd, through its subsidiary Ujjwal Pune Ltd.
All the street lights in PMC limits will be controlled from a single location of the command and control room. Also, a facility will be created so that citizens can log on to a mobile application or dial a toll-free number for complaints regarding street lights.
The project was appreciated at the national level. In April 2018, the PMC received the ‘Best Practices Award’ to improve ‘The Living Environment 2017-18 of Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO)’ for Pune Street Lighting project under PPP.
Now, CAG, in the report, has raised objections on the project. The report stated that the work has been awarded to the contractor without competitive bidding. The agency, with which the agreement was made, sub-contracted the execution to another agency, which got the payment.
It has also mentioned that there are other irregularities with respect to the design, build, finance, operate, maintain and transfer of the project.
The report pointed out that the additional work, amounting to Rs 2.55 crore, was awarded to the developer without inviting a tender. Also, a feasibility/detailed project report was not prepared and a separate cash book was not maintained by the chief engineer of the civic body’s electrical department.
The report has pointed out the irregular execution of work of fixing of LED lights at various places, including ward no. 1 (A), ward no. 13 (B) and irregular execution of the work of providing lamps and improving lighting system at various places including Taljai Vasahat, Kiran Society, Shahu Society and on the road towards the Taljai temple.
When contacted, Shriniwas Kandul, Chief superintendent of the Electrical Department, told Sakal Times, “We have received a copy of the CAG report and we have taken cognisance of it. We will conduct a meeting on the report and decide further course of action.”