Worse, though corporation officials concede that both these companies — WeStart Communications and its sister concern Premier Precision Surface – do not have the expertise and experience to handle such a mega project, neither of the company has either been blacklisted or put on notice for termination. “It is a clear case of collusion,” said Jayaram Venkatesan, convener of the anti-corruption forum Arappor Iyakkam.
How a multi-hundred crore civic project landed on the lap of untried entities should be probed, along with the clear criminal collusion of officials both in AIADMK and the DMK regimes. Together, the contractors and bureaucrats have failed the common man. They should be held accountable for the immeasurable adverse environmental impact of their offence and prosecuted accordingly. That said, the government should reward performing companies that have stuck to project schedule with incentives and more contracts. After all there is no dearth of dumpyards in our city.
In contrast, Zigma, a tech-driven company that was given 94 out of the 203 acres of Perungudi dumpyard, has completed more than 90% of bio-mining. As for the 109 acres given to WeStart and Premier, only 38% of the allotted area has been bio-mined, officials told TOI.
So, what is wrong with the project? WeStart Communications, started in 2015, offers only ‘advertising services,’ as per its audit forms submitted to the Registrar of Companies (RoC). Its Memorandum of Association, a document under Companies Act, 2013, says the company is registered in Tamil Nadu and the scope and objectives of the firm is to undertake businesses and consultations on advertising, publicity, public relations, press relations and mass communications, advertising research, among other areas related to advertising and media. There is no whisper about their ‘experience’ in bio-mining.
When contacted, Rajive Joseph, project head for biomining, WeStart Communications, told TOI that its sister concern, Premier Precision had handled garbage bins, transporting waste in Coimbatore and also handled construction waste. The companies share knowledge and resources, he added.
When TOI visited their plant, it found that the companies were working from same office, having common staff and machinery.
Top corporation officials, requesting anonymity, told TOI that both WeStart and Premier got the tenders worth ?150crore in February 2021 during the AIADMK regime, just a week before the model code of conduct was to kick in. “They do not have the manpower and machinery. We will be issuing them a pre-termination notice, and it will be followed by a termination notice,” said an official.
Jayaram Venkatesan said the failure of the corporation to take action against WeStart and Premier Precise indicates collusion of officials in the present regime. “When they clearly know the contractors have not performed, why haven’t they blacklisted the contractor? By allowing them to work, they will now claim experience in bio-mining and take future tenders,” he said. He added that the quality of 38% work done by them too is in question.
As a result of this delay the ?50-crore eco-park announced by the GCC recently is hanging fire. It also leads to accumulation of fresh waste at the dump site.
Kurian Joseph, a professor of environmental studies, said that if one major portion of the landfill is cleared up, then the eco-park work could begin there.
“Overall, we need a system of composting, processing, segregation, incineration and bio-CNG, to fully eliminate the dumpyard. It will take three years for us to reach there,” he said.