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First the High Court, then the Chief Minister. Now it is the turn of Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) of Karnataka to point fingers at Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s garbage management.
CAG has noted that BBMP has spent more than the amount allotted towards Solid Waste Management expenses; At the same time, BBMP has lost more than 66 crores by not collecting cess in 2008-11 from 18.38 lakh households!
In the CAG Report on Local Bodies for the year ending March 2013 released on July 14th 2014, CAG found out that BBMP did not ensure collection and remittance of SWM cess during 2008-11. Cess was one of the reforms introduced under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme to meet the service cost of SWM.
Subsequently the collection of cess was mandated in the KMC Act which empowered municipal corporations to levy SWM cess on owners or occupiers of buildings or lands or both in the city, and prescribes the rate of cess based on plinth area.
The rates for collection of SWM cess (March 2004) ranged from a minimum of Rs 10 per month for a residential building of plinth area up to 1,000 square feet (sq ft) to a maximum cess rate of Rs 600 per month for hotels, marriage halls etc that exceeded plinth area exceeding 50,000 sq ft.
The service providers were authorised to collect the SWM cess during 2008-11, from residences and commercial establishments and remit it to BBMP. However, failure of collection of the cess by the service providers in the three zones led to a huge loss to BBMP. Even the penalty of Rs 9.60 crore for non-performance of this contractual agreement was not recovered from the service providers.
CAG pointed SWM Department has not been functioning properly, because there they did not notify the Solid Waste Management policy. So there was no proper directive for effective management and scientific disposal of waste. Lack of scientific processing facilities at landfill sites and non-compliance with the rules resulted in open dumping of mixed wastes had lead to environmental pollution near landfill sites.
Biomedical waste pickup irregular, payment regular
CAG also inspected performance audit since 2008-2013 at Central Office, Chief Engineers (CEs), SWM and four zones of BBMP. Out of the six Referral Hospitals in BBMP, CAG chose three hospitals and three slaughterhouses and 10 landfill sites to assess compliance with Bio-Medical Waste (BMW) Rules.
In Hospitals CAG found 1,051 instances when biomedical waste was not been collected on a daily basis from 24 Referral hospitals/maternity homes. Untreated waste had not been collected up to six days, which was in violation of BMW Rules.
However, the Medical Officers had furnished the compliance certificates without reporting periods of non-collection of BMW. This resulted in release of full payment to the contractors without deduction, though the agreement provided for proportionate levy of penalty for non-collection of BMW on daily basis.
BBMP-rented shops exempted from SWM cess
In 2011, BBMP had notified that the cess will be collected with property tax. As the property tax returns were not filed in respect of BBMP-rented properties, these properties did not pay SWM cess. CAG report stated, “BBMP had not envisaged any other mechanism to collect SWM cess from such properties. Audit scrutiny showed that there were 4,214 BBMP-rented market shops in the test-checked zones which did not pay SWM cess of Rs 50.57 lakh for the period 2011-13, considering the minimum rate of Rs 50 per month per shop due to deficiency in the BBMP notification.”
When CAG brought this to the notice of the State government, the State Government said there was no such policy for collection of SWM cess from BBMP-rented buildings and instructions. However, according to CAG there is such a provision in the KMC act.
Delay in report causes non-utilisation of available funds
The fifth State Level Empowered Committee (SLEC) of JNNURM had sought central assistance in 2007 under JNNURM for SWM projects in Bangalore. For this purpose, BBMP had entrusted in September 2007 the work of preparation of a Master Plan and a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to M/s. Infrastructure Development Corporation Karnataka Limited, Bangalore (IDECK) at a cost of Rs. 97.80 lakh.
The Master Plan and DPR were to be submitted by February 2008 and April 2008 respectively. The IDECK submitted the final Master Plan and DPR in March 2009, after a delay of 12 months, reported CAG. As a result, the project was not funded under JNNURM and BBMP lost the opportunity of availing assistance of Rs.280.17 crore.
SWM grants unutilised
Further, the State Government had released in July 2010-March 2013 General Basic Grant of Rs. 152.04 crore and General Performance Grant for the period February 2012-April 2013 of Rs. 28.50 crore to BBMP as assistance under Thirteenth Finance Commission Grants.
The State Government had earmarked a minimum of 25 per cent of these grants for SWM activities. On scrutiny of Utilisation Certificates (UCs) furnished by BBMP CAG found that BBMP did not utilise the General Performance Grant and could utilise only 22 per cent (Rs.33.31 crore) out of General Basic Grant for SWM activities.
CAG report said, “This has resulted in non/short utilisation of Thirteenth Finance Commission grants of Rs.11.83 crore for the allocated purpose.” Also audit remarked that State Government failed to prescribe any penal clause for non-release/utilisation of the minimum grant earmarked for SWM.
Loaned amount shown as expenditure
Out of Thirteenth Finance Commission Grants, BBMP had extended in April and August 2012, a soft loan of Rs. 4.50 crore for 15 years was given to M/s. Terra Firma Biotechnologies Limited (TFBL), a waste processing unit, at the interest rate of six per cent per annum. The soft loan was given for developing additional infrastructure in the interest of expediting the processing of MSW.
Audit scrutiny showed that BBMP recovered a sum of Rs.15.17 lakh in November 2012 but instead of crediting the money in SWM account it credited it to a deposit account. This resulted in diversion of funds, stated CAG. CAG observed that BBMP had submitted the utilisation certificate treating the loan amount as expenditure, which was not, as per the guidelines.
The State Government accepted the CAG’s objection and said, “The amount lent as soft loan would not be shown in UC but would be utilised for the intended purpose.” However,when CAG pointed that this amount was submitted as UC to the Central Government, “ The reply was silent on the issue of diversion of funds,” stated the CAG report.
The never-started GPS garbage vehicle tracking system
In order to ensure that the garbage is duly collected from all the households and reaches the landfills, in 2008 BBMP initiated a plan to install (June 2008) a web-enabled automated vehicles tracking system using Global Positioning System (GPS) for its 600 vehicles.
BBMP availed of the services of Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (KEONICS) for operating the GPS system for a cost of Rs. 64.68 lakh (including the installation cost) during July 2008-January 2011. CAG found out, “Against the requirement of 600 GPS to be installed in vehicles, 422 GPS had been purchased in July and October 2008. Out of which only 387 GPS had been installed, with delays ranging up to 29 months.”
The system was to daily prepare and submit to BBMP three reports: vehicle tracking report, vehicle running/non-running status and dumpsite report.
CAG observed that BBMP not only failed to cross-verify transportation claims with the reports but also failed to address the shortcomings pointed out in these reports such as missing GPS from 13 vehicles, non-tracking of vehicles due to weak signals, system errors, tampering of instruments, non-availability of power due to absence of battery mode etc. BBMP discontinued the services of KEONICS in November 2012. The system remained idle since then.
In defence, the State Government attributed (January 2014) the shortcomings in the tracking system to factors such as absence of in-built battery instrument, communication signal, bad weather, etc., and stated that the system was discontinued due to the garbage crisis and floating of new tenders for collection and transportation of MSW.
The State government added that bills had been passed on the basis of GPS monthly reports. The reply was not acceptable to CAG as they found that GPS had not been installed in all the vehicles and couldn’t find any documentary evidence in support of passing the bills using GPS report. CAG observed, “There was not only a wasteful expenditure of Rs.64.68 lakh but the opportunity to regulate and monitor transportation claims using GPS was also lost to BBMP.”
Rs 89 lakh payment for vehicles that didn’t exist!
CAG inspected the details of 180 vehicles registered in the VAHAN database of Transport Department to assess the genuineness of the vehicles used for transportation of MSW in the city.
It was seen that 17 vehicles used in Bangalore (West) zone for transportation of MSW were registered as non-transportation vehicles as two wheeler, four wheeler, bus, etc. BBMP did not verify the authenticity of transportation claims of such vehicles and passed the bills without necessary checks. As a result, payments of Rs. 88.95 lakh made on these vehicles during 2008-13 were fictitious.
Further the audit also observed that in 63 out of 180 MSW vehicles, fitness certificates were not renewed for vehicles which were working a period ranging up to 33 years which contravened the provisions of Motor Vehicle Act. It was also observed that 29 vehicles more than 15 years old (as of April 2008) were being used for transportation of MSW which was in contravention of the agreement clause.
The State Government couldn’t make a comment on this and has therefore asked the Zonal Joint Commissioner (West) to examine the observation and furnish the reports.
Conflict of interest in supervising processing units
Government can hire a third party to monitor the work done by a contractor. But here is a case where a project engineer who is appointed by the contractors has to supervise the processing units and activities managed by the contractors themselves.
CAG found out the flaw in the contractual agreement which asked the concessionaire to appoint and pay the such project engineers. “Such an appointment would restrict the independence of the Project Engineers,” observed CAG.
Such case was evident in the case of the Mavallipura processing unit which had been closed for non-compliance with MSW Rules by KSPCB in 2012, but no such omissions had been reported by the concerned Project Engineer.
This time the State Government accepted audit observations and stated that BBMP had no control over the Project Engineers. Proposal to appoint Project Engineer by BBMP itself would be submitted so that the activities of processing units could be monitored, the State clarified to CAG.
No stable system for SWM
CAG observed that officers involved in overseeing the implementation of MSW Rules did not have specific job responsibilities and an Expert Committee to guide BBMP in management of MSW was constituted only in September 2012.
The creation of posts of Additional Commissioner (SWM), three additional Chief Engineers and allocation of responsibilities among them was done only in November 2012. It was also seen that Additional Commissioner (SWM) did not have a minimum fixed tenure and this post was held by nine incumbents as additional charge in a short period of 16 months from June 2012-September 2013. It was only in October 2013 that an Environment Cell was formed to oversee the implementation of MSW Rules. Thus, the institutional mechanism during 2008-13 was not adequate, adversely affecting the administration and management of MSW in BBMP.
CAG reported that “Efficiency in collection of waste was poor and no efforts had been made to promote waste segregation. Lack of scientific processing facilities at landfill sites and non-compliance with the rules resulted in open dumping of mixed wastes had lead to environmental pollution near landfill sites.”
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