Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BBMP’s ‘outsource and forget’ mantra proves costly

BBMP’s ‘outsource and forget’ mantra proves costly

Krishnaprasad and Afshan Yasmeen

The civic body has failed to monitor maintenance work carried out by private contractors

Contactors never bother about what the residents have to say

BBMP hardly uses penalty clause to penalise the contractors

Bangalore: Has the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s decision to outsource maintenance of the city’s infrastructure helped improve services and made life simpler for Bangaloreans?

It appears not.

Ineffective monitoring, failure to impose penalty on defaulting private agencies and contractors for lapses, and alleged connivance of officials with the contractors are defeating the purpose for which outsourcing was initiated by the civic body.

A cross-section of residents of Bangalore The Hindu spoke to said that outsourcing of the maintenance of roads, drains, parks, flyovers, underpasses and so on has not improved the city’s infrastructure owing to the callousness of officials. “It is true that the private agency or contractors will have to discharge the responsibilities entrusted to them, but at the same it is the duty of the civic authority to monitor the maintenance work carried out by them,” says G. Ramamurthy, secretary, Coordinating Committee of Residents’ Welfare Associations of Indiranagar.

Mr. Ramamurthy points out that recently a contractor, who filled potholes in Indiranagar area, did a shabby job but the BBMP did not bother to check the quality of work. Though residents were aware of the sub-standard work, they could not do much as the contactors never bother about what the residents have to say.

Mathew Thomas of Citizens’ Action Forum says that the outsourcing will help the city only when the BBMP takes feedback from the residents on the performance of the private agencies and contractors and takes necessary action based on its result. “The process of outsourcing should be transparent. Details of contract such as amount paid, contractual obligations, etc., should be made available to the residents of the locality concerned at a regular interval which will help them to keep a vigil on performance of contractors,” says Mr. Mathew. He cites the garbage collection system as a classic example of outsourcing going out of gear.

Kumara Park West Residents’ Welfare Association president N.S. Ramakanth complains about poor maintenance of the park in Kumara Park West by a private contractor. “Maintenance has been outsourced for improving the park, but it has not improved the status of the park. Still we have to complain to higher authorities in the BBMP about poor maintenance.”

Rajashekhar, a resident of Banaswadi, points out that connivance of BBMP officials with the private agency or contractors is draining the BBMP’s treasury.

He points out that the BBMP hardly uses the penalty clause as per the agreement to penalise the contractors for shabby work and, in many cases, the agreement might be in favour of the contractors without any provision for stringent penalty. “Publication of terms and conditions of the agreement with contractors on BBMP’s website can come handy for fixing responsibility on contractors and the officials,” he says.


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