THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government’s decision, way back in 2007, to pick Kerala Water Authority as the implementing agency of sewerage projects in urban areas has backfired badly. Virtually none of the Rs 581.77 crore allocated for sewerage works under Kerala Sustainable urban Development Project has been completed even after a decade. Of the total contracted amount of Rs 999.14 crore under ‘Part A- Urban Infrastructure Improvement’ of the ADB-funded project, Rs 581.77 crore (58 per cent) was set apart for rehabilitating and expanding sewerage networks in four Municipal Corporations (Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi and Kozhikode) and also for the construction of Sewage Treatment Plants (STP).
Out of 21 sewerage contracts, only two contracts relating to the construction of STP at Muttathara (Thiruvananthapuram) at the cost of Rs 42.70 crore and land filling work for STP at Mundanveli, West Kochi, at the cost of Rs 2.87 crore were completed. In the other 12 sewerage contracts (including three ongoing and nine short closed or terminated contracts), the progress in physical implementation ranged between zero per cent and 40 per cent. An audit had observed that even though expenditure on sewerage was very high as compared with the other components, 78 percent of the expenditure actually incurred for sewerage projects related to purchase of pipes, mobilization advance and payment of road cutting charges while only 22 per cent was spent on civil works like laying pipes, and giving sewerage connection. This exposed the technical weakness of KWA.
The minutes of a review meeting convened by the Chief Secretary on July 2016 had revealed that the state was aware that KWA did not possess the technical capability to implement sewerage projects. The KWA managing director himself had conceded the inability at the meeting. The review reports of ADB had also pointed out various lapses committed by KWA in reviewing designs, reporting field problems in time, and synchronizing water supply and sewerage works with the road works of PWD. Government sources said that the works were entrusted to KWA since all existing water supply and sewerage networks and pump houses were owned and managed by KWA. Further, the KWA had volunteered to implement these projects under KSUDP.