Tepid response to NMC’s 3450 solar water heater project

Nagpur: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s (NMC) project to distribute 3,450 solar water heaters with 50% subsidy may well end up as the first project to remain incomplete even 55 months after initiation. The deadline for the project was 2014.
The electrical department proposal, before the standing committee meeting on September 17, is to complete the works using the remaining two agencies, since one of the appointed agencies is not executing any works.

Since its launch in February 2014, over 600 of the total 3,450 solar water heaters are yet to be distributed under the central government’s Model Solar City Scheme. The heaters are of 125 litres per day capacity and worth Rs14,800 per unit. NMC was to bear 50% cost, with the money coming from the centre. The beneficiary was to contribute remaining 50%.

Three private agencies — Rajkot-based Redren Energy, Jalgaon-based Jain Irrigation System, and city-based MM Solar — were to supply and install the systems. Redren was given contract for 1,898 (55%) systems, while Jain Irrigation 793 (23%), and MM 759 (22%) units.

After installing 1,114 systems, Redren reportedly stopped executing the works. In March 2017, NMC gave a list of remaining 178 beneficiaries to Redren, but nothing happened. NMC then got 83 of the 178 works done through MM.

Now, the department proposes to give remaining works also to Jain Irrigation and MM.

The civic body had taken up the project as centre was to give 50% of total cost. Shockingly, NMC continued the scheme even though government stopped giving its share. Also, NMC is yet to get applications for around 500 solar water heaters.

NMC officials told TOI general body had taken a decision to continue the project. “We did not get applications for all 3,460 heaters in 2014. The applicants deposited demand draft late in some cases. Other formalities like clearance of property tax and water bill delayed some cases. Then the government discontinued the scheme, so we have to do the entire administrative process again,” he said.

Standing panel to take on administration

Rifts between the ruling party BJP and administration is likely to widen further. The standing committee is all set to pull up the administration for not executing works approved by the panel in the budget.

Standing committee chairman Virendra Kukreja has convened the meeting with eight proposals on the agenda on September 17. Three proposals are related to administrative works. One proposal is to know status of works cleared by standing committee. Second one is related to submission of departmental audit of revenue and expenditure to standing committee from time to time. Last one is related to audit report of revenue and expenditure.

NMC sources told TOI the administration is likely to be at the receiving end, as it has not submitted audit of revenue and expenditure and other information to the standing committee regularly.

The standing committee had suspended an executive engineer in the last meeting. Also, the committee had rejected leave of municipal commissioner Virendra Singh, though it was cleared by the state government. Ruling party leader Sandip Joshi had postponed the general body meeting over Singh’s absence.

The dispute between the ruling party and administration has started since demolition of unauthorized constructions and illegal religious structures followed by restriction on some works by the civic chief.