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Street cleaning machines in India 'not fit for purpose'
The Times of India is carrying a story about cleaning equipment being 'left to rot' in Varanasi, India, but unlike the proverbial UK cleaning cupboard in which unused equipment is often found to reside, this equipment isn't a cheap and ineffective chemical or difficult-to-use small machine, but two expensive street cleaning machines that don't appear to be fit for purpose, which were purchased two and a half years ago.
The publication reports that before the machines were purchased, a committee was formed so that their cost and effectiveness could be evaluated. It is alleged that objections were made by a committee member regarding the usefulness of such machines in a city like Varanasi where most of the roads were narrow and full of pot holes and with so many surfaces being dug up across the city under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission.
Despite such objections, the two sweeping machines were bought by the Varanasi Municipal Corporation in September and December 2010, at a cost of around Rs 50 lakh each (almost £50,000).
One of the machines, which is designed for use on narrow roads, has a tractor base, while the other, which is designed for use on wider roads, has a truck base. TOI reports that only one of the machines has ever been used in the city and then only two or three times, and that it is now "dumped in the VMC backyard.
"These sophisticated machines, meant for vacuum cleaning of roads and dividers, have little to do in a city where roads are virtually enveloped in dust and have pot holes at almost every yard. It's surprising how the officials chose to ignore the huge loss of public money in the purchase of these two machines. According to the transport inspector, VMC, Ram Sakal Yadav, these machines were clearly a waste of money as the running cost of a single machine was Rs 1000 per hour with consumption of 15 litres of fuel for one hour."
TOI reports the municipal commissioner RP Singh as saying: "These are white elephants which are not only expensive but also have a high maintenance and running cost. The VMC simply cannot afford to operate these machines at the cost of Rs 1000 per hour. These can be utilised only at the time of a VIP visit in the city; otherwise manual sweeping is far more cheap and efficient. Besides, these machines cannot operate on the quality of roads we have in our city. I wonder why these were bought with such a huge investment."
Apparently, SP Verma, Nagar health officer, had not been aware of the machines' existence and when the issue was brought to his notice, he issued directions that the machines be made operational to prevent them from rusting up.
The mayor Ram Gopal Mohale said he would write to the Government asking it to look into the matter.
13th June 2013