CHENNAI: In June, after heavy rain flooded Mumbai and investigations revealed civic staff connived with contractors to clear bills though desilting of drains was not done, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation suspended 14 officials.

In Chennai, after the recent floods proved hollow the corporation’s claims that it had removed 6,200 tonnes of silt from storm water drains, not one person has been made accountable for the mess.

Around 800 areas were inundated, 2 lakh families displaced and more than 120 lives lost in the floods.

Anti-corruption crusaders are demanding a probe into the de-silting work with many residents complaining it was poorly executed. Corporation staff claim the ban on manual scavenging and shortage of super sucker machines affected work.

“There seems to be a huge scam involved,” said Siva Elango, an RTI activist. According to rules, the junior engineer in each ward has to prepare an estimate on desilting work before it is approved by the assistant executive engineer and cross-checked by the executive engineer.

“The junior engineer has to measure the amount of silt in drains and prepare an estimate,” an official said. The silt is weighed at the two dump yards to assess the work done.

Sources say some officials in connivance with contractors add debris to silt to increase weight and receive payment for the silt ‘cleared’. “Some officials don’t even visit sites to monitor de-silting,” said a former corporation engineer.

Elango alleged that there was no transparency. “The corporation claimed to have spent more than 5,000 crore on infrastructure in four years and the mayor recently said over 93% of the work is over but this is not seen on the ground,” he said.

Corporation officials say they are focusing on relief. “The city was flooded because of unprecedented rain, not because of shoddy work,” said a senior official.

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Source: TOI-Che