Many more mechanical sweepers, many more problems


Palike’s tender for another 25 machines is causing a heartburn among some manufacturers


The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has floated tenders for the procurement of 25 self-propelled mechanical sweeping machines at an estimated cost of Rs 230 crore including their operations and maintenance (O&M) for a period of seven years. Many manufacturers, however, say that the tender conditions are such that they will not attract fair and competitive bidding.

Manufacturers wondered why the civic body is insisting on self-propelled machines when there are a variety of road sweeping solutions in the market including the chassis-mounted machines that can cover longer distances with minimal maintenance cost. Another bone of contention among the manufacturers is the hook loaders, which, they say, is not required for truck-mounted sweeper machines.

Some have also gone to the extent of alleging the tender conditions are rigged only to favour one or two manufacturers. “Self-propelled sweeping machines are not meant for the city. They are best used in industrial units or in airports where the extent of dust and debris is not as much as it’s on public roads. If the BBMP goes ahead with the tenders, a lot of public money will be wasted on maintaining these compact machines, whose spare parts are costly,” a mechanical sweeping machine manufacturer, who is unlikely to qualify in the tender, said.



The self-propelled machines, he said, requires an additional hook loader to take the waste from the machine to the container. “The truck-mounted machines are able to store a large volume of dust and transport it to far-away places without depending on additional vehicles,” he said.

As per the new tenders, the BBMP will initially spend Rs 42.68 crore for procuring 25 machines and another Rs 185.83 crore towards O&M. Each machine is expected to sweep 40-kms of road every day.

What can be noted is that the BBMP already has the experience of procuring and operating both self-propelled and truck-mounted sweeper machines. Both these variants were, however, provided by New Delhi-based TPS Infrastructure Ltd, which has the reputation of being blacklisted by New Delhi Municipal Council in 2016 for failing to carry out mechanised sweeping of roads as per the contract. The Delhi-headquartered firm is currently establishing 50 mini garbage transfer stations in the City at a cost of Rs 246 crore.

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Officials said the decision to procure self-propelled machines was taken based on the resolution passed by the BBMP council. “The corporators were not happy with the performance of truck-mounted mechanical sweepers. Hence, we chose self-propelled machines,” D Randeep, Special Commissioner at BBMP’s Solid Waste Management division said.

“If some manufactures feel that the tender conditions keep them away, they can raise their concerns in the pre-bid meeting. We can make suitable changes to ensure there are adequate competitions. If only one bidder qualifies, we may not go with the tender. Even government’s approval is required before awarding the contract,” Randeep explained.

A recent Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report had found absence of a mechanism to monitor the operation of eight mechanical sweeping machines that the BBMP had purchased for Rs 27.73 crore in 2017.

The department, the report observed, did not make any arrangements to monitor the usage of machines of high value. The auditors found that the BBMP had paid Rs 8 lakh under O&M charges for the period between July, 2017 and September, 2017. The company had sought Rs 61 lakhs for 14 months from October 2017.

During the last council meeting, some corporators had stated that none of the mechanical sweeper are covering the required 40-km stretch daily. Experts also say that these sweeping machines do not perform well on city roads.

“In areas where soil has more sandy content, the machine sweeping is better. Our roads have more silt and clay content,” he said.



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Sagar Biswas

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