Suez contract: Corporation to retain ownership of projects

The civic body, which has been facing allegations of bequeathing its rights over water supply to French firm Suez, has rebutted such claims.

Suez has won contract worth Rs. 2,972.16 crore to implement the 24×7 drinking water supply in 60 of the 100 wards in the city (old city area) for four years and take up maintenance for 21 years thereafter.

“It is understood by the parties [Corporation and Suez] that the ownership of the project [24×7] facilities shall, through the term of the Agreement, remain with the authority and is neither intended to be transferred, nor being transferred in any manner to the Concessionaire [Suez] by or under this Agreement,” reads a clause of the agreement, which has been shared exclusively with
The Hindu
.

Sources in the Corporation say that the scope of work the Corporation has given to Suez begins only from the outlets of the Siruvani and Pilloor tanks that the civic body uses for distribution.

‘Item 65, General, Authority Response part of the agreement reads: “…It is hear by reiterated that the scope of the Concessionaire commences only from the outlets of the MBR(s) [master balancing reservoir(s)]/MSR(s) [ master service reservoir(s)].”

Further defining the scope of work, the Corporation has also stated in the agreement that Suez’s work will start from the outlet of the reservoirs to house service connections.

“The Concessionaire shall be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the entire Water Distribution Network Components from the Master Service reservoirs to the House Service Connections,” reads another clause in the agreement.

The sources say that the agreement also clearly specifies that the Corporation will have the final word regarding disconnection of water supply and also the powers to override suggestions by Suez in this regard.

Suez can only request the Corporation to disconnect water supply by stating the ground for disconnection. The Corporation, if necessary shall disconnect water supply as per existing laws or direct Suez to continue water supply by giving written instructions.

The Corporation has also countered allegations that it has not taken into confidence members of the public and political parties in the run up to implementing the 24×7 scheme.

The sources say that the process to engage the public and political parties began with a presentation to the then members of the Council in October 2008, followed by consultative meetings in the then four zones in December that year, a discussion on the detailed project report in the Council in January 2011 and Government of India approval in October 2013.

The sources further say that the Corporation first floated the request for quotation from parties interested in bidding for the project first in September 2015 again in January 2017.

It then floated the second request for proposal in June 2017 and thereafter followed the procedures as per the State Government’s norms.

Therefore to say that the civic body has been less than transparent or given Suez the rights over water is unfounded, the sources add.

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