I am an engineer in Nuclear Power Corporation of India. I was Engineer In charge of a work contract. The Contract started in 2011 and has ended in 2012. My employer has served a Memorandum based on a examination of the contract by the Vigilance cell of the company. The charges implicated are:
1) Point No 1: I processed the technical sanction without taking the administrative approval, thus violating the tendering process.
My Response: The technical sanction was approved by the Chief Superintendent of my power station and the tender document was approved by Station Director of my power station. Hence no separate administrative approval was deemed necessary. As it was a public tender, I was advised by my superior officers, that being a public tender and the safest mode of tendering/preferred mode of tendering for NPCIL, there was no need of administrative approval in this case and hence the administrative approval moved for approval was withdrawn. But as the advice was verbal I have no documentary evidence.
Point No 2: I prepared the inflated estimate of Rs 60,88,560/- by adopting lump sum budgetary offer of a company(the contractor), without any rate analysis. The actual estimated cost could have been Rs 34,89,280.00 if he prepared detailed estimate. Thus, he prepared the estimate without any proper process/rate analysis which resulted in inflated estimate and led to loss to NPCIL.
My Response: As the contract was being planned for the first time in view of the out sourcing of manpower, there was no previous experience of such contract, hence as advised by the superior management a budgetary offer was received from a party who was already executing similar work in another station of NPCIL. The arbitrary estimate of Rs 34,89,280.00 as mentioned in the subject memorandum, is based on the minimum wages of unskilled, semiskilled, skilled and highly skilled workers prevailing at that time. The qualification and experience required to operate and maintain a safety related system was much higher than specified for the unskilled, semiskilled, skilled and highly skilled workers and it was approved in the technical Sanction and the tender documents. It doesn’t includes the overtime component and the expert hiring charges. Moreover, this was not a purely manpower contract, the responsibility of hiring any expert for trouble shooting and maintaining the proper performance was on the contractor.
To safe guard the interest of the NPCIL, a public tender was floated and wide publicity was given to the NIT through publication on NPCIL web page, publishing in news paper and display on the local notice boards. In response of the public tender, four parties quoted out of which two were technically rejected and out of the two qualified parties, the L-1 was recommended for award of work. A approved tender evaluation committee, evaluated the tenders. The committee had qualified two bidders and recommended for opening of the “Price bids”.
Point No 3: I prepared the tender in a casual manner having number of ambiguities about working days, working hours and exact requirement of manpower in various shift etc., The penalty clauses were also not framed properly. As per the tender condition, minimum prescribed manpower to be deployed were 19 whereas the actual deployment was only 16 to 17 persons. Due to ambiguous provisions the penalty clauses, no recovery towards any penalty could be levied despite the short comings in the deployment of minimum manpower which led to undue benefit to the contractor.
My Response: Total 19 manpower were required as per the tender, out of which 11 were to work in general duty and 08 were operators. The operators who had to work in round the clock operation shift, were attached with RAPS-3&4 regular departmental operation crew. The 08 operators were distributed among 4 crews as per RAPS 3&4 plant operation crew. On any day always one crew is on off. Hence there have been presences of only 06 operators on any day of the contract. As the general shift manpower were allowed to avail the regular holidays and the weekly off, it was the right of the operator manpower also to avail their shift off. Two operators were always present, at the shift location in each. Hence only presence of 17 manpower was there on any day in the contract and two always on shift off. This necessarily doesn’t means that, the 02 manpower were not available for the contract. Hence there have been no undue benefits to the contractor on this account.
According to me the Penalty clause was very clear. The penalty clause mentioned in the SCC(Special Condition of Contracts), “The contractor has to maintain the minimum staff as mentioned. In case any supervisor/operator/technician is absent for more than 3 days in a calendar month, a penalty of double of the per day wage of our regular staff will be deducted per absence(exceeding 3 days) day from the next RA/Final bill. In case for penalty purpose the current wage of a fresh supervisor/operator/technician will be considered.”
Point No 4: As per the pre-qualification criteria, the bidder in case of authorized representative of manufacturer should provide the proof of competency from the manufacturer for having trained manpower. The contractor ho was awarded the work, neither submitted the proof of the competency from original manufacturer nor I checked from the contractor about the same. Thus the work was awarded to unqualified bidder. Further, the contractor deployed the incompetent/unqualified persons on the work.
My Response: The manpower deployed by the contractor were thoroughly interviewed by a approved committee for assessing their technical competence. About 60 manpower were interviewed to select 18 technically competent manpower. The initial incompetence of the manpower was eliminated by the contractor when he was informed. The contractor had experience of similar work at another station of NPCIL and was executing the job satisfactorily, hence he was not incompetent.
A tender committee approved by the competent authority, evaluated the tenders. The decision of qualifying the contractors was a committee decision and was not taken by me alone.
Based on the tender committee’s evaluation the proposal of opening of “Price bids” of the qualified bidders was approved by the competent authority.
Point No 5: I did not keep proper attendance records of the deployed manpower of the contractor. There was mismatch in the physical presence and the attendance records of the deployed manpower in Visitor Management System (VMS). I failed to recover the penalty amounting Rs 3,16,085.00 towards the short deployment even as per the contract provisions. This resulted in undue benefits to the contractor.
My Response: As per the prevailing practices at that time, a hard copy of the attendance register was maintained by the contractor and it was being verified by the EIC(me) on daily basis. Hence proper attendance record was maintained by the EIC. To the best of my knowledge no administrative order at my power statione exists for guiding/directing the Engineer In Charge to adopt VMS for the purpose of attendance monitoring of the contract workers. There have been mismatch in the presence in the physical presence and Visitor management system due to following reasons:
a) VMS system for contractors is only available after activating it by the CISF personnel under their login on daily basis.
b) VMS server not available.
c) Manual entry by contract personnel due to malfunctioning or defect in the RFID card. The process of replacement of the RFID card and its activation in the system takes some time depending on the resources available with the various agencies involved.
d) On occasions if the subsequent person enters/exits the gate with a very less time interval just after a person, the entry doesn’t gets registered. This flaw has been improved later by changing the time setting by the concerned agencies.
e) One few occasions of all contractor strike at the whole station, as per the instruction of the Engineer in charge(me), the operators were detained within the plant site to provide the round the clock coverage in the interest of NPCIL. As they didn’t left the site during that period, there entry in VMS on daily basis was not recorded in VMS.
Presently no record in VMS is available for the first half of the contract, for further analysis.
Already absence penalty of about Rs 2.75 lakhs have been recovered from the contractors bill and process of recovery of balance penalty, is under process. The difference in penalty has been due to following reasons:
i) Earlier the physical register was considered for the purpose of penalty calculation, but as per the advice from the vigilance the penalty have been recalculated considering the VMS attendance (While recalculating the penalty all the above points 5 a) to e) have been neglected as we are not having any records of the VMS flaws and the manual entries.
ii) Operator penalty was not deducted as the absence of the round the clock operators was managed by the contractor by deploying manpower on overtime or calling the “shift off manpower” to give the coverage. Not even a single day was noticed or reported by our operation staff for absence of even a single manpower during the whole period of contract. The operator location has never been left vacant. For this the contractor had paid overtime to his staff as per the standard overtime rules. But as per the advice of the local vigilance persons the penalty has been recalculated using the available VMS records.
In view of all the above facts mentioned in Point 5, I sincerely believe that, no deliberate undue benefits have been provided to the contractor.
Point No 6: The contractor has made the payment of the EPF on the lesser salary in comparison to minimum wages as specified in the contract. I did not check the payment of EPF actually to be made as per the contract provisions which led to undue benefit to the contractor.
My Response: The less payment made by the contractor on account of EPF was a over looked but the minor amount of Rs 4038.00 due was deposited in the EPF accounts by the contractor.
Point No 7: For the purpose of determining penalty on account of deployment of departmental manpower, the wages of a person were worked out without adding DA. This was not as per the payment of wages act. This has resulted in less recovery from the contractor and benefited the contractor at the cost of NPCIL.
My Response: This has been falsely implicated. For determining the penalty on account of deployment of departmental manpower, the wages of a person have been worked out including the DA. The calculation sheet and the Memorandum of RA bill effecting the relevant recovery is available showing the calculation and deduction done.
Due to the above, I have been implicated the violation of the following clause of the the NPCIL(Conduct) Rules 1994 have been implicated:
1)Every employee of the Corporation shall at all times maintain absolute integrity;
2)Every employee of the Corporation shall at all times maintain devotion to duty,
3)Every employee of the Corporation shall at all times do nothing which is unbecoming of a Public Servant
4)Every employee of the Corporation holding a supervisory past shall take all possible steps to ensure the integrity and devotion to duty of all employees for the time being under his control and authority.
5)The act or conduct of a servant may amount to misconduct-If the act or conduct is prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to the interests of the master or to the reputation of the master;
6)The act or conduct of a servant may amount to misconduct-if the act or conduct of the employee is such that the master cannot rely on the faithfulness of his employee;
7)The act or conduct of a servant may amount to misconduct-if the act or conduct of the employee is such as to open before him temptations for not discharging his duties properly
8)Without prejudice to the generality of the term misconduct, acts of omission and commission in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the Corporation.
In my view I have never done anything with malafide intention. Anything if have been gone wrong have not been deliberately done and have been due to lack of knowledge and guidance by superiors. I have not been trained till now to handle the work contracts. I feel the charges implicated are unfair and unjustified.
Please guide me, how to proceed to avoid any action against me.