The story of Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd (TEIL) at Kondli WWTP project is a story of opportunities missed and stark negligence. Originally planned for a 3-year timeline, the project was stretched out to 5 years with Triveni progressing at an astonishingly slow pace right from the beginning.
When the Yamuna in Delhi continues to flow with extreme pollution showing little or no aquatic life in Delhi, projects meant to clean it are delayed persistently and authorities look lost, a question erupts: Is anyone even serious about this unfolding disaster?
It has been five years since Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd (TEIL) began to construct the Kondli Wastewater Treatment Project, a facility with 204-MLD capacity to treat sewage emanating from the dense settlements of East Delhi and ensure that Yamuna rejuvenation is achieved in time.
The Rs 314.70 crore project (capital expenditure) was awarded to Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd (TEIL) – along with GSJ Envo Ltd. and Gharpure – which mandated the construction start on August 10, 2018 and complete it by August 09, 2021. Two years have passed since the original timeline and Kondli WWTP still waits to be fully commissioned. The social, economic and environmental cost of such unimaginable delay would certainly be very high even though no one bothered to calculate it.
IAmRenew’s investigation reveals that the story of Triveni Engineering in Kondli WWTP project has been a story of delays, incompetence and malpractices; authorities oblivious to it.
Triveni missed multiple deadlines
The Kondli WWTP project is being developed through Phase I (45.5 MLD), Phase II (113.7 MLD) and Phase III (45.5 MLD). Triveni was to complete the project in three years, succeeded by six months for trial and commissioning. The company website reveals that it also has project’s operation & maintenance responsibility for 10 years.
IAmRenew’s investigation reveals that Triveni failed on multiple timelines. The original deadline was August 09, 2021. When the original deadline arrived in August 2021, Triveni could finish only 64.43% of the project work.
It is evident from the Progress Report for June 2023 that while the original work order period was on, the deadline was extended for Triveni to complete the 204-MLD STP units by December 2021. This was an extension of 16 months.
It seems that the extension was accorded due to the difficulties caused by the lockdown led restrictions during the pandemic. But the delays have gone well beyond what the pandemic caused.
Triveni Engineering at Kondli WWTP
|Deadlines||Actual Progress||Status of Project|
|August 09, 2021 (As per work order)||64.43%||Project Incomplete|
|December 31, 2022||85.42%||Project Incomplete|
|June 30, 2023||94.63%||Project Incomplete|
|September 30, 2023||—||—|
|Work awarded Capex cost||Rs 314.70 crore|
|Date of start as per work order||August 10, 2018|
|Date of completion as per work order||August 09, 2021|
|Contractor||M/s Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd.- GSJ Envo Ltd- M/s Gharpure|
Long extension & wastage of opportunity
The extension received was expected to be used by Triveni to speed-up its work and complete the project in time before December 31, 2022. But the official data tells us that Triveni’s performance continues to be lackadaisical.
In the first three years, that was the original work period as per the contract agreement, the company completed 64.43% of the project work. On an average, Triveni Engineering constructed only 1.78% of the project work every month.
On December 31, 2022, Triveni failed to deliver the WWTP. The work completed by Triveni in December 2022 was only 85.42%. Between August 2021 and December 2023, which is an extension period of a whopping 16 months, Triveni could add just 20.99% to the project work. This means that every month, they worked only 1.31% of the project. When the authorities expected Triveni to step-up the work, the speed actually went down. The slow work by Triveni is unexplained in the Progress Report of June 2023 and there is no reason to believe that either Delhi Jal Board or NMCG took any action against the erring company.
When Triveni couldn’t deliver the Kondli STP units even on December 31, 2022, the deadline was again extended to June 30,, 2023. Another extension of six months, but the result remained unchanged. Triveni failed to deliver the project yet again. The company could complete only 94.63% of the work. As of June 2023, it was already five years since construction started at Kondli.
Now September 2023 has been set as the new deadline despite the fact that it has already been 2 years (24 months) over and above the contract agreement period.
Triveni’s approach evident from the beginning
The June Progress Report shows that Triveni was very slow in the construction work from the beginning. In some of the months, work literally stalled. For example, for almost six months between August 2022 and January 2023, the actual physical progress was as good as nothing. In these six months Triveni delivered a total of 0.73% of the project work. The simple calculation would reveal that in these six months, the company worked only 0.12% each month. This looks like a big joke on public money.
Now Triveni has missed the June 30, 2021 deadline also. All civil and E&M works not completed. The company’s delinquency is evident from the fact that it failed to submit its action plans with the authorities and the project management consultancy (PMC) which monitors the project. The non-submission of the action plan hampers inspection and review that would abate slippage in progress and help timely completion of each STP unit at Kondli.
The June 2023 Progress Report says, “DJB has categorically stated to the Contractor that no further extension of time will be granted. In case of further delay and if work is not completed by 30th June’ 2023 then penalty will be imposed to the Contractor as per contract but the work could not be completed.” Forget penalty, the Progress Report mentions that a new deadline has come in place – September 30, 2023.
Nothing suggests in the Progress Report that either Delhi Jal Board or NMCG took any action against Triveni for its dismal performance. This was the period (December 2022) when Triveni was to deliver the project after an extension of 16 months, they delivered not even 1% of the project work in six months.
Lockdown or not, Triveni always moved at snail’s speed
It has been said that EPCA ban, monsoon and Covid led restrictions caused delays in the project. But the reality is very different from what is being said.
When we investigated the work progress, we found that the gap between originally planned progress and actual physical progress by Triveni began to increase much before the Covid-led pandemic had struck. Hence, to say that it was pandemic led restrictions that negatively impacted the speed of the work looks like a hoax.
The Progress Report of June 2023, reveals that the work gap started to expand from January 2019, which is 15 months before the pandemic had struck India. Triveni maintained the speed of project work only for a few initial months in 2018 and thereafter never really caught up. The civil construction speed (RCC) was just half of what was required every month in the past five years.
Kondli WWTP is of high environmental and social importance. The project would clean the industrial and household sewage of most of East Delhi. The region is densely populated. To clean Yamuna and the natural environment of Delhi, effluent emanating from this part of the city must be cleaned before releasing into the river and maintaining its ecological flow.
An array of incomplete structures & moral bankruptcies
The official documents tell us that only 94% of the project is complete as of June 2023, but achieving the feat by September 2023 looks highly unlikely as several critical structures have not been completed by the contractor as of June 2023. The incomplete part of the WWTP units include DAF control building, digester control building, gas engine building, power generation building, treated effluent channel, centrifuge building, administrative building, concrete roads and many more. General lighting, power supplies, civil works and E&M works are pending across structures.
In the next article of Yamuna Action Plan Expose Series, the IAmRenew investigation will reveal how exactly Kondli WWTP units stood marred by Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd.
A total of 24 inspections of the Kondli WWTP project have been carried out by the E&M engineers’ team. Each time observations regarding delinquencies were tendered to Triveni. The company did not submit a single compliance report while Delhi Jal Board, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) took absolutely no action against Triveni – as is evident from the Progress Report. How such discrepancies and delinquencies would be possible in the absence of political support?
In November 2022, the then Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia conducted a surprise inspection of Kondli WWTP and found several lapses and asked DJB to take stern action against the contractors for not performing according to the contract. No action seems to have been taken. Both Triveni and Delhi Jal Board did not reply to the questions of IAmRenew.
The National Green Tribunal imposed a fine of Rs 50 crore on DJB for allowing untreated sewage to pollute the Yamuna through Kondli drain. The matter is now pending in the Supreme Court. During a visit in mid of 2022, DJB Chief Executive Officer P Krishnamurthy reprimanded the officials and the contractor for slow work. The NGT had also pulled up DJB for shirking its responsibility to control the foul smell Kondli STP that marred the local environment and the people of the area suffered.
Yamuna Action Plan – a gist
Yamuna Action Plans (YAP) were created with the objective of creating sewer networks, catching wastewater and treating it before releasing it into the Yamuna river to ensure that the river is cleaned. Previously, YAP-I and YAP-II were executed but the pollution level in Yamuna has gone from bad to worse. The river doesn’t have any life in a stretch of 22-km in Delhi; it’s literally dead.
Now the Central Government has come with YAP-III which envisages construction of three major WWTPs in Okhla, Kondli and Rithala. A huge quantity of wastewater is out-falling into Yamuna untreated. Kondli WWTP is being built to arrest the wastewater of East Delhi. YAP-III is integral to the broader initiative of cleansing the Ganga river system and Yamuna is its most vital tributary.