Civic chief scraps `163-crore solar project at Morbe dam Top civic officials put in papers, more to follow
Civic commissioner took the decision because of flaws in the project
In a major decision which goes against former minister Ganesh Naik’s much-touted plans, Navi Mumbai municipal commissioner Tukaram Mundhe has cancelled the Rs163crore solar project.
Planned on the slopes of Morbe dam to generate electricity using solar panels, the project had been facing major hurdles.
The civic body said the decision was taken due to several flaws in the project and it will help it save funds.
Additional municipal commissioner Ankush Chavan said, “Municipal commissioner Tukaram Mundhe, while taking a review of the work of the engineering department, scrutinised the project. He came across lacunas and decided to scrap the project, thereby saving Rs163 crore of public money.”
The standing committee of NMMC had on September 11, 2014, sanctioned the solar project at Morbe dam. The project had to be completed by May 10, 2015. It was essential to have a power purchase agreement (PPA) with MSEDCL for sale of electricity generated from the project. However, with MSEDCL informing NMMC on December 30, 2014, that it cannot purchase the power, the project was doomed even before it began.
Chavan said, “Most importantly, there is no PPA with MSEDCL. Besides, when the project was approved, the cost of generation of electricity was much higher, which is not feasible in the market today as no one will purchase it at that higher rate.”
He added, “The project’s deadline is long over. It will increase the NMMC’s financial cost and add to the burden on the civic body.”
Chavan said if such a project is planned in future, new tenders would be called and the project would be implemented properly. He added, “The civic commissioner has stressed on taking up projects with large public interest. He has also laid emphasis on providing quality civic services through tax collection. The funds saved will now be used for other important civic services.”
There is an exodus of top officials from Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) with some being sent packing by municipal commissioner Tukaram Mundhe, while some putting in their papers. There are reports of several more top officials quitting in the coming days.
One of the most senior deputy municipal commissioners of NMMC, Jagannath Sinnarkar has quit the civic body opting for voluntary retirement (VRS). Chief sanitation officer Siddharth Chaure too has reportedly put in his papers.
Sinnarkar, who had for years headed the departments of administration, fire and others had recently been transferred by Mundhe as DMC (headquarters) in charge of departments of property, vehicle and Swachch Maharashtra Abhiyan.
He had been in NMMC service for the past 18 years in various posts.
With just three years of his service remaining, his resignation has shocked the civic personnel. He has stated that he has resigned for personal reasons.
A civic source said, “At least two assistant municipal commissioners, who are ward officers, could submit their resignations soon. There are also other officials and personnel who are planning a similar move due to the pressure and the changed scenario in the administration since Mundhe took charge.”
Earlier, former additional commissioner Dr Sanjay Pattiwar who had been demoted by Mundhe as medical officer of health had recently resigned.
Mundhe had said that since Pattiwar’s post had not been sanctioned by the government, he had to go back to his original posting.
Mundhe had suspended deputy municipal commissioner (property tax) Prakash Kulkarni and instituted a departmental inquiry against him for alleged administrative and financial irregularities.
He had rejected Kulkarni’s offer to resign from the civic body sticking to the suspension order.