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Public works - workings and problems

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This is to understand and the criticize the way this whole public tendering and works process works. Not as sexy a topic as Roads, Flyovers or Airports, but this is where it all happens - execution matters most. Most corruption also happens here as this is the place where money changes hands. Citizen involvement (lack of it) plays here - as work must be checked for quality. And if you talk to officers inside the government - many hate the process for their own reasons (delay, inability to deal with cartels etc).

Pasting parts of Chari's comments to lead this off:


In the US and most so called developed countries all public works are tendered, but none of the departments concerned have any caveat saying they must choose the lowest bid cost-wise. Every tender is evaluated as if that was the only offer on hand and the bottomline is that the technology that is being promoted is sound and has been tried and tested (not necessarily in their country, but anywhere in the world).

In fact new technologies are given extra weightage just to encourage people to think out of the box.

I know the answer to that is that we are a poor nation and hence cannot afford to choose the best technology. But that is incorrect, is it not? When thousands of crores of Rupees is being spent on infrastructure, should the objective be to obtain the best technology or should it be to get the cheapest so that the budgetted amount stretches itself to cover kick backs etc?

If you "beat" down a contractor's quoted price to such absurd lengths that it leaves him with a wafer thin margin after he has also covered kick back costs, he will have no choice but to deliver inferior stuff cheating on the material actually being installed. No one is in the business of providing turnkey solutions for the love of one's city / nation. If everyone accepts the fact that the service provider too needs to make his profit and does not question it, half the problem of delivering sub-standard services will be over.

In major / mega contracts abroad, (in some countries only) the contractor is told up front to quote his best price. Then he is cooly told by the authorities to add "x" percent to pay for "party funds". The party funds are paid indirectly by the budgetted amount and the party sees to it that the contractor delivers what quality of work he had originally promised to deliver. This happens quite a bit in Indonesia, Japan, and some of the other S. E. Asian countries - even Malaysia. At the end of the day, people get the best technology for the basic infrastructure project.

There are no cartels of contractors who monopolise contracts depending on their closeness to the officer issuing the contract. There are no "A" , "B" and "C" grade contractors. Everyone is on equal footing!

Once a technology, after thorough evaluation is approved, they let the contrator / inventor / promoter do his job with a free hand. No 'babus' trying to trip you up.

And the best part is that when a contractor / supplier finishes his job and submits his bill, he is paid within one week without his having to go umpteen number of times literally begging to be paid and in the process having to pay for "chai-pani" to N number of clerks handling his bill!


In the case of SW Drains, BBMP Engineers are simply fed up of the problems they face when it rains heavily and every open drain gets flooded. Just because cl;osed drains are being suggested by a "foreign" company public at large seem to think it is somehow not a method suited to our climate. Actual fact is that closing drains will throw several approved contractors out of their annual job of concreting the open drains and of de-silting the muck! This is admitted by BBMP Engineers themselves.


dvsquare's picture

For example, take the irctc or any govt website

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One of the example is or say

The tender would have been given to some relative etc of the govt official, which doesn't know how to write the proper/bugfree software, company which cannot have a good server which can take the appropriate load, and service is the one word, which India is still naive about, government is nowhere near to it.

n's picture

Food for thought

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From the minister himself. Remains to be seen of the solution is implemented (always the stumbling block) in earnest. comment guidelines

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