Saturday, August 28, 2010

Heat on for DDA over Games Pools

It is not just the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee that stands accused of inflating payments and manipulating tender processes.

The story of how four training swimming pools, including two at the Commonwealth Games Village, were constructed by Delhi Development Authority is one of blatant price escalation, allegations of tainted tendering and could end with the fiasco of the pools not receiving required certification on time.

As authorities rush to ensure that the pools get their certification ahead of the Games, the Central Vigilance Commission’s technical examiner has begun to scan contracts, especially for filtration equipment procured by DDA which could now face some serious questioning.

The construction of the four swimming pools the main one and a leisure pool at the Village and one pool each at Siri Fort and Yamuna Sports Complex has seen DDA shelling out almost 20 times the price for filtration equipment compared to similar projects completed recently.

The filtration equipment for DDA’s Chilla Sports Complex swimming pool, which has a larger capacity with similar specifications, was completed in April for about Rs 27 lakh. As of now, DDA is paying over Rs 5 crore for each of the main training pools.

When the pre-qualification estimate was done for filtration plants for the first time in September 2008, the estimate was a combined Rs 3.25 crore for the main and leisure pool at the Village. And Rs 2.5 crore each for the pools at Siri Fort and Yamuna complex. The already high rates went up to Rs 3.19 crore in estimates when the chief engineer (electrical) initiated the process for inviting tenders in a few months time. Then, towards the end of 2009, the cost for the filtration plant and other accessories went up to Rs 5.09 crore a pool.

DDA did not reply to a detailed questionnaire sent by english daily Times of India on August 16 on the entire issue.

Swimming pools may not get certification from top body

Another Games project is under the scanner. It has been alleged that DDA has spent “too much” to construct four swimming pools the main one and a leisure pool at the Village and one pool each at Siri Fort and Yamuna Sports Complex.

What makes matters worse, said sources familiar with the contract, DDA may not be able to secure mandatory certification from Fidiration Internationale de Natation (FINA), the international body administering swimming standards, before the Games begin. Luckily, Talkatora stadium, the venue for swimming competitions, has obtained certification in time.

Along with the astronomical increase in cost, the tender process was delayed. From the time pre-qualification estimate was prepared, it took DDA more than a year to issue a tender at the end of 2009.

The selection of manufacturers of the filtration equipment is also mired in controversy. In the initial tender document, there were three firms, but just one seemed a genuine manufacturer. At least one pre-qualified bidder who objected was disqualified, sources said.

Documents with a leading english daily shows that Pentair, a firm that reportedly makes filtration equipment in Spain, found its way into the final list of manufacturers. The then member (engineering) of DDA noted on file that the “basis (for inclusion) of Pentair has not been substantiated”, and added “this be kept on record”.

According to documents, a part of records that are part of a CVC inquiry, Pentair probably does not manufacture big filters and systems required for the Games and they have not possibly catered to Olympic size pools. A mandated inspection of the manufacturing plant in Spain was never undertaken by DDA.

On December 21, 2009 when the post-bid meeting was called, those who submitted tenders were given blank technical documents to fill up including mentioning makes of equipment. Pentair found its place in these documents. Meanwhile, the pools are still not ready.