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Dirt on WAPCOS

March 7, 2014

Dirt on WAPCOS

After hearing a few officers complain about the quality of work turned out by WAPCOS, in fields as diverse as bridges and roads to dams and STPs; and since private consultants are anyway mentioning the chaos created by them, I set out to look at the bigger picture, trying my best to keep my views aside.

WAPCOS, who?

Water and Power Consultancy Services, with the mission ‘ To be a Premier Consultancy Organisation recognised as a Brand in Water, Power and Infrastructure Development for Total Project Solutions in India’ by their own claim, and a “MINI RATNA”.

On Emerging Markets Information Service (EMIS) website, WAPCOS Lts. is described as providing ‘Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services’, a Non-Listed LLP (Limited Liability Company). They further elaborate: WAPCOS Limited an ISO 9001:2000 Certified Company is a “MINI RATNA” Public Sector Enterprise under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Water Resources. Incorporated on June 26th, 1969 under the Companies Act. 1956, WAPCOS has been providing consultancy services in all facets of Water Resources, Power and Infrastructure Sectors in India and Abroad. 

Wiki has more @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_and_Power_Consultancy_Services (retrieved today, 07.03.2014) and from the links one knows they have projects in Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Bhutan and Ethiopia. WAPCOS is everywhere. Studies of river basins, catchments, large Hydro projects, master plans, regional plans. And also we figure out that the word DPR figures prominently in their deliverables. Studies, reports, assessments on which to get clearances of various kinds. 550 crore turnover: not easy for smaller companies to beat them, and not difficult for them to enter any budding field and ruin it.

Like any big organisation, it has some very driven and competent people. They are also responsible for giving a few small organisations a chance to work on a scale they would not otherwise imagine. For profit, of course. All big consultancies have the structures of extraction worked out very well, they make sure they take all the profit, if there’s any to be made.

What about the quality of their work? Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy. This is the word I hear from all sides. From those who are sitting on the client side; and have to get work from them, those who have to implement projects devised by them, and those who have a modicum of sense in them…

Who can be the judge?

Mostly people who are ‘working’.

Here’s someone with a real issue with WAPCOS… Repeatedly they mention that WAPCOS is unreliable in their quality and conclusions:

Shoddy EIA by WAPCOS Tries to Push Unjustifiable Bansujara Irrigation Project in Madhya Pradesh

@ http://sandrp.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/bansujara-irrigation-project-in-mp/

Many writers here have taken to tearing apart the work in question. With sometimes apt and at other times juvenile observations on the copy and paste job that the report is @ http://sandrp.in/Bansujara_Multipurpose_Nov_2013.pdf

A new one on the same blog, by another author:

Critique of Kalai II HEP’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Study and Environment Management Plan

@ http://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/critique-of-the-eia_emp-kalai-ii-hep/

Who is complicit?

So that is someone concerned about ‘How governments collude to violate laws’. And we know the state of mess out governance is. Water and Power are also some of the trickiest sectors, specially in developing economies with rich and endangered natural resources. Dams, development and shared resources pose some of the longest standing and most tenacious battles for our culture and politics. Hard choices have to be made, all the time. And justification for the same have to be given, even if it’s a scam. Technical matters, long range solutions are ever pitted against political urgency and the simplicity with which a non-technical decision maker would approach the issue. Citizens, who are capable of hugging trees, but not fixing their leaky tap, or pouring chemicals through the drain in an eco resort. Or plain contractors who need construction labour, often for corporates who need their industries to run. It’s a cycle, you see?

There are noises of Dam and Power Plant projects being approved without examining even basic data. This is not new, it has been going on and even for the project as big as Narmada Dam, with opposition from big people, and the battle being dragged to Supreme Court. Within the context of water crisis of five urban regions. The studies commissioned belatedly, with the threat on a consultancy that it will be blacklisted if they gave an unfavourable assessment. Its that elephant in the room. All consultants know how their work is created and sustained.

Everyone knows the people at Ministry (of Environment and Forests, MoEF) are no angels, and a developer is not interested in an impact assessment but rather in the result it produces – for a person who’s made up his/ her mind to execute an idea, this usually spells ‘clearance’. Dam(n) the environment. Build the apartment. (This is for future, on how environment clearances really work)

What is their context? It is primarily an Engineering Consultancy Organisation and they work with governments, at all levels, as well as with other semi government agencies, public as well as private companies and sometimes with groups of citizens. They are pitching for every kind of work that’ll come to them. And they are getting work through tenders and open bidding in most of the cases. That brings us to this question: should a company that does EIA Reports be more invested in the environment or in the report? Which one should you choose?

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