Air quality affected by attempted stinking dealJune 29, 2012, 9:18 pm
An alleged attempt to make a killing in the purchase of four air quality testing machines urgently needed by the country, in the guise of making the purchase through a government-to- government deal, has become the talking point in the Central Environment Authority and the Environment Ministry.
CEA Chairman Charitha Herath, who returned to the country yesterday after attending the Rio + 20 summit, however claimed that the offer from the Czech government was a package of proposals and it had nothing to do with the current moves to acquire four air testing machines.
Insiders said that because of the shenanigans the evaluation of bids by the Technical Evaluation Committee, made up of top officials, though completed some months ago, had still not led to the awarding of the tender.
They said according to the action plan the tender should have been awarded by now and there was also said to be a threat from the Treasury that if the purchase was not made this year the money would be taken back.
Herath also insisted there was yet plenty of time to award the contract.
Sources said the TEC had evaluated a machine built in the Czech Republic, which was according to the country’s requirements and within the budgetary allocation of Rs. 120 million. However, certain interested parties had allegedly wanted to buy the identical machine through the government of the Czech Republic at a much higher price on a credit line. Had they succeeded in their endeavour, the Treasury would have had to come up with extra fund or the CEA would have had to buy just two machines instead of the four, they said.
Virtually all the top officials in the Ministry and the CEA were tight-lipped or were not coming to the phone to answer queries regarding the issue.
Head of the TEC and the Additional Secretary to the Environment Ministry N. K. G. K. Nemmawatte, when contacted for comment, said he knew nothing about any problem with the tender.
The Ministry Secretary B. M. U. D. Basnayake was always busy with something or another and the callers were queried by his peon who they were and what they wanted to know from the secretary.
According to environmentalists the country has been without proper air monitoring equipment for more than a decade. The only machine that is functioning since 1997 situated in front of the Fort railway station, is unable to test any of the impurities other than the dust particles in the air.
This is despite the fact that motorists are expected to undergo costly emission tests on their vehicles annually, but the CEA does not bother to test the harmful fumes from those vehicles that people are forced to breathe like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and even ozone gas.
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