Garbage contractors push BBMP to the wall; city in dumps

Garbage collection in the city is currently broken because BBMP is not awarding long overdue new tenders. Contractors have been jamming the July 2011-initiated tender process with objections for months now. A Citizen Matters inquiry has exposed that BBMP has diluted the terms of engagement several times in past two months.

Pourakarmikas manually handling the garbage in Richmond Town. Pic: Kathyayini Chamaraj

A clause which mandated the contractor to submit monthly records of door-to-door collection to BBMP in electronic format, was removed in December. Another clause which imposed a 10-15% of monthly contract value as penalty for one offence of non-performance was diluted by a factor of 60 to 0.16%.

B V Satish, BBMP Chief Engineer (SWM), says that these changes were made because of demands of garbage contractors.

Dilution bonanza

In the last one year, BBMP has amended its garbage tender document thrice. The Solid Waste Management (SWM) tender document was first published in the state government’s e-procurement (https://eproc.karnataka.gov.in) website in July 2011. A modified document was published in mid-December with several changes.

After this version, some garbage contractors sued BBMP in the High Court against provisions such as reservation for SC/ST individuals, giving only 45 days to submit bids, and more, according to a report in The Hindu

BBMP amended a second time on December 30th. Penalty for non-performance has been reduced from 1% of monthly contract value to 5% of daily contract value (or 0.16% of monthly contract value). A clause, saying that contractor will have to pay twice the penalty amount while committing the same offence a second time, has been removed.

Criteria for contract termination slashed between mid-Dec and Dec 31st versions

The earlier document said that BBMP could terminate the contract if the same offence was committed thrice; this has been removed.

Another criteria for termination earlier was this: if the penalty amount was greater than 10% of the monthly contract value for three consecutive months, BBMP could end it. But As per the new terms, BBMP can terminate the contract if the penalty amount comes to 5% of monthly contract value for three months. And since the penalty per offence itself has been reduced to 0.16%, it would take about 30 offences for the contractor to accrue total penalty of 5%. (In the earlier scenario it would take 10 offences, since each offence would cost 1%, to accrue penalty of 10% of monthly contract value.)

Other changes in the Dec 30th tender as compared to the mid-December tender

  • A clause which mandated the contractor to submit monthly records of door-to-door collection to BBMP in electronic format, was removed.
  • Bidder would not have to remove BESCOM tree trimmings from road side, as was required earlier.
  • Another clause requiring contractor to transport animal carcasses within two hours, now says that carcasses need only be removed from the spot in two hours, and transported later.

With the December 30th amendment, the date for bid submission was also extended from January 10th to January 18th, the day this article was published.

“The amendments and extension of deadline was due to less number of bids received,” says Satish. The deadline should have been 22nd August as per the initial July document.

A history of dilution

It is not just that Dec 30th tender was a substantial dilution of terms from the mid-Dec version.
Compare the July and mid-December (first and second) documents and there are many more changes.

Garbage tender, public consultations – From L-R Almitra Patel, Manjunath Reddy and Gangadhara Swamy. Pic: Yograj S Mudalgi

For instance, contract period was increased, penalties were reduced and eligibility criteria was relaxed in the mid-December tender. Citizen Matters findings below are based on a comparison of July and December documents for the S-16 package comprising Jayanagar 9th block and Bismillnagar (ward numbers 170 and 171). [One package comprises 2-3 wards.]

July: Contract period is two years.

December: Contract is for three years.

July: One party can bid for maximum of five packages and can be disqualified if they bid for more.

Dec: No limit on number of packages one can bid for.

July: BBMP can award only one tender to one party.

Dec: BBMP can award any number of tenders to one party.

July: To be eligible, contractor should have at least two years experience in collection or street cleaning. Or experience in transporting 28 MT of material for two years.

Dec: Only one year experience required in all of these. Also experience transporting 14 MT of material would suffice.

July: Contractor should have five compactors and two tipper lorries OR 12 tipper lorries at his disposal.

Dec: Contractor needs to have only two compactors and two tipper lorries OR six tipper lorries with him

July: Tipper lorries and compactors should be those manufactured after 2005 and 2006 respectively

Dec: Compactors and tipper lorries manufactured after 2000 would suffice

July: If Self Help Groups (SHGs) came forth to do door-to-door waste collection, this work would be given to them and amount corresponding to that work would be deducted from contractors’ payment

Dec: This clause is removed

July: Biometric attendance compulsory for employees at muster place while reporting for and after completing work

Dec: This clause is removed

July: Cut of 10-15% of monthly contract value as penalty for not doing even one aspect of the work, like waste collection, even for a day.

Dec: Penalty for all offences reduced to 1% of monthly contract value (as stated earlier, this is now 5% of daily contract value)

July: Bidders should have labourers and equipments ready within 15 days of getting Letter of Award (LoA) of contract

Dec: Bidders should have labourers and equipments ready within 45 days of getting LoA.

A few lines of silver?

Cleaning of subways and flyovers were brought under the scope of the contract, it was specified that construction debris at any spot weighing less than 250 kg should be removed by contractor.

The amount that BBMP gives the contractor after first year of contract, to cover escalation charges, has been reduced from 5% to 3%.

BBMP cancels bogus contracts

In a separate development, BBMP has cancelled the garbage contracts awarded by some councillors in their wards without calling tenders. The councillors had assigned their own contractors for garbage clearance in addition to BBMP’s own contractors.

An order from the BBMP Commissioner M K Shankarlinge Gowda on January 6th says that these contracts will be cancelled with effect from January 25th.Though January 18th was the last date for submitting bids, BBMP says they would not be opened until the HC orders to do so, because of litigations on the tender. A senior official at the SWM department says, “The next date for the HC hearing is January 30th. Further procedures will be initiated after this.”

So for the moment, Bengaluru’s fate on waste collection remains suspended.

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About Navya P K 240 Articles
Navya P K is a former senior staff journalist at Citizen Matters, and a freelance journalist based in Kerala.

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