The sanitation plant in San Mateo Huitzilzingo, State of Mexico, is not yet operational. Although ejidatarios in the area donated land in the hope of obtaining water for their crops and 108 million pesos have been allocated, the work is surrounded by irregularities, and there is no guarantee that the resource will reach the population.
The ejidatarios of Huitzilzingo, accompanied by organizations, filed complaints with the Secretariat of the Public Function (SFP) and the Superior Audit of the Federation (ASF) for the irregularities, but to date they have had to work with the contaminated water, without seeing the project advance or sanctions being issued.
“We don’t have water for our crops. There it affected us a lot, because if they had put the plant on us we would have enough water,” says Benjamín López, one of the ejidatarios of the town of Huitzilzingo.
At the beginning of the project, the ejidatarios agreed with authorities that they would donate a part of their plots in exchange for obtaining healthy water that would serve them in their crops, Lopez explains. But some time later the officials changed the place of the work to a particular land, without carrying out soil studies, or guaranteeing them water.
And yet, the plant is abandoned, there is no clean water for celery, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, chili peppers and other vegetables they grow.
“We have to use the water from the Amecameca River, but it is dirty water, drainage water that we have to occupy for our vegetables, they have not given us another solution,” says the ejidatario.
In conjunction with the organizations Fundar and Controla Tu Gobierno, the ejidatarios filed citizen complaints for irregularities such as the original change of the work, the additional assignments and delays in construction and delivery date.
However, two years after the appeals were filed, the ejidatarios and the organizations said they were dissatisfied with the actions taken by the authorities, since the plant is still immobile.
The responses of the audit institutions “generate concern regarding the attention of the State of citizen mechanisms in the fight against corruption,” says a joint statement from the organizations.
In this sense, they accuse that the SFP sent the case to the Internal Control Body of the National Water Commission (OIC CONAGUA) and the Comptroller of the State of Mexico, but the file ended up archived under the argument that there were not “sufficient elements to determine the responsibility of public servants”.
And although the ASF did conduct an audit in which confirms the “idle investment with public resources” of 108.5 million pesos, only identified that there were 7 million pesos pending to be clarified.
For Benjamín López, the sanctions on the case, rather than seeking to imprison the people responsible, should be in respect of the reparation of the damage and build the plant where it was originally planned.
“That a new plant is made, because it does not cost 108 million, the original project was 46 million,” he says.
The findings of the ASF
According to the Physical Investment Compliance Audit, in this project an idle investment was carried out that “does not meet the objective” since it is not producing the expected profit, since the plant has not entered into operation, even though its completion was scheduled for January 2018.
In addition, it accuses that the National Water Commission (Conagua) “did not comply with the legal and regulatory provisions applicable in the matter” due to the “deficient planning, programming and budgeting of the project.”
And that the Government of the State of Mexico, through the Water Commission of the State of Mexico (CAEM) did not comply with the legal and regulatory provisions applicable in the matter, “because there is no evidence that justifies the change of site nor were there any new studies for the implementation of the project“.
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