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Consultancy fad costing Karnataka government crores

Several crores have been spent on consultancy for projects that never saw the light of day and Bengaluru has a long list.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jul 13, 2017, 10.27 AM IST
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The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has budgeted Rs 4.89 crore for a consultant to find out how rainwater can be harnessed in the Vrishabhavathi valley, with the river already foaming.
The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has budgeted Rs 4.89 crore for a consultant to find out how rainwater can be harnessed in the Vrishabhavathi valley, with the river already foaming.
BENGALURU: The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has budgeted Rs 4.89 crore for a consultant to find out how rainwater can be harnessed in the Vrishabhavathi and Hebbal valleys.

In all, the water supply utility will spend Rs 24 crore this year on consultancy services. This includes the preparation of detailed project reports (DPRs) for Cauvery 5th stage and revival of Hesaraghatta and Tippagondana Halli tanks.

"Everything is ten dered and the consultant, whose bid is the lowest, will be roped in," BWSSB additional chief engineer (new initiative and new water) PN Ravindra said, justifying the spend.

Consultancy is a common expenditure for government agencies. Several crores have been spent on consultancy for projects that never saw the light of day and Bengaluru has a long list. The most recent was the controversial steel flyover, which had a DPR.

"DPR for any heavy infrastructure costs at least Rs 2-3 crore," said Pawan Mulukutla, head integrated transport at WRI India, which prepared a report on the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS). The project was dropped.

"The issue is with planning. Projects will remain on the wish list if they are not tied to master plans."

In 2013, UK-based Capita Symonds prepared a project report for a 40-km Light Rail Transit network, estimated to cost Rs 10,875 crore. The Bangalore Airport Rail Link Limited (BARL) spent Rs 4.5 crore on the report but the project is staring at uncertainty.

BARL is not new to this.The high-speed rail link from the city centre to Devanahalli was scrapped despite a DPR prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

Not many remember the Elevated Light Rail Transit System (ELRTS) project. Hailed as India's first privately-promoted rail venture, it was awarded to Vijay Mallya's UB Group-led consortium in 1996. A special purpose vehicle, Bangalore Mass Rapid Transport Limited, was floated. A project report was ready in 2000.The then SM Krishna government dropped it.

"To kill a project after preparing a DPR is foolhardy ," urban expert Vivek Menon said."In the US, they prepare a major investment study, which is known here as a pre-feasibility study . A DPR must be done only after deter mining if a project is feasible."

For example, an intermodal transit hub planned in Yela hanka was dropped after a pre feasibility study.

The government is spending Rs 20 crore for a detailed feasibility study on a 109-km elevated east-west-north-south corridor project estimated to cost Rs 18,400 crore. Some experts are questioning the project's feasibility.

"There's a 60% success rate for projects whose DPRs are ready," said HS Jagadeesh, a civil engineering professor at BMS College of Engineering.

"Best is to ask citizens if they want a project before spending rt want a project before spending public money on consultancy."

He has been a consultant for sev eral projects. In 2014, the BBMP roped him in for a third-party appraisal of an elevated corridor that never take off. Janaagraha CEO Srikanth Viswanathan said: "If there's a robust planning and risk-evaluation process taking into account various steps, culminating into tendering and legal compliance, there's high probability that a project will happen.But to do all this, you need a consultant."
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