The near two-year struggle to hand over a major part of the conservancy works in the city to private players could see relief with the Greater Chennai Corporation finalising a Spanish firm to clear garbage from as many as seven zones constituting half the area of the metropolis.
“We have held several rounds of talks and negotiations-both financial and technical-with the firm before finalising it. As all the processes are completed, we are expecting to issue work order before December 15,” the official said.
The move comes in the wake of the civic body in 2017 deciding to privatise conservancy works in as many as eight zones and extending garbage collection works in three zones to Ramky Enviro Engineers. However, the tenders inviting private firms for the operation in eight zones received poor response from the bidders, forcing the authority to float several re-tenders. “Initially, the cost estimation for the bids were prepared without considering employee benefits that the private firm has to spend. We modified the estimation and bid documents to encourage private firms to take part in the bidding,” another official said.
Meanwhile, the Corporation has finalised Ramky Enviro Engineers to undertake conservancy works in north Chennai zones such as Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram and Ambattur at a cost of Rs. 744.79 crore. The private firm has been involved in operations in the Teynampet, Kodambakkam and Adyar zones for close to eight years that includes two contract extensions amounting to one year. Now, as per the bid documents, both the firms- Ramky Enviro Engineers and Urbaser SA-will clear garbage from the city streets for the next five years.
When asked about the fate of conservancy workers across the city due to the move, an official said that the contract workers would be absorbed by the private firms and that the permanent workers from across the city would be transferred to the Royapuram, Tondiarpet, Thiru Vi Ka Nagar and Anna Nagar zones in which the civic body will continue to take care of garbage removal.
Conservancy workers have earlier held several protests against the civic body’s move of privatising the works, fearing loss of jobs and livelihood. Further talking about the operations takeover, the official said, “Even though the work orders for 11 zones will be issued in a few days, the private firms will take at least three months to start their operation as they have to procure machinery, vehicles and make ground-level arrangements. By June or July, the private conservancy will become fully operational. Conservancy workers will not be shifted from their present workplace till June.” The official also clarified that the private firms will only undertake conservancy works and the payment will be made by the civic body based on key performance indicators. Besides, a proposal for collecting user charges for conservancy works from the residents is under perusal, the official said, adding that once it is approved, the civic body will collect the charges, and not the private firms.