Srinagar: Highlighting ill-conceived planning and lack of diligence in conducting site surveys and seeing through projects to finalisation, a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India report has indicted the state Public Works Department (PWD) for holding up work on 18 bridges, thus incurring the government an unfruitful expenditure of Rs 26.92 crore.
“The (PWD) projects valued at Rs 43.95 crore were held up due to changes in design after approval of works, or due to lack of encumbrance-free sites which indicated [lack of] due diligence in site surveys and designs at the technical support stage,” notes the report. “Consequently expenditure of Rs 26.92 crore (61 percent of estimated cost of the works) was rendered unfruitful.”
Taking a dig at the PWD, the report notes that according to Rule 09-3 of the J&K financial code, no work should be commenced until a properly executed design and estimate have been sanctioned, and funds to cover the year’s charges have been provided by the competent authority.
Detailing PWD works on bridges, the report stated that 14 bridges had been taken up under Kashmir’s special bridge programme. However, the report found that between 2001-02 and 2012-13, work on 10 bridges costing Rs 32 .29 crore was stopped due to there being no approach road for their connectivity, even as the PWD spent Rs 19.90 crore on their execution. “They (the bridges) could not be made functional due to non-construction of their approaches owing to land disputes, resulting in unproductive expenditure of Rs 23.14 crore,” the report stated.
Likewise, the other four bridges with an estimated cost of Rs 3.24 crore were completed after the department poured in Rs 3.24 crore on their construction between 2010 and 2016.
In the construction of a foot suspension bridge over the river Marsudhar in Margi Warwan area of Kishtwar, the PWD changed the span of the bridge in 2010 at a cost of Rs 1.43 crore, after it decided by afterthought to convert it into motorable bridge.
“The original estimate was revised to Rs 2.94 crore. The PWD division spent Rs 1.30 crore as of July 2015 on construction of abutments and procurement of part material. The administrative department did not release funds, and the work was held up resulting in unfruitful expenditure of Rs 1.31 crore,” it stated.
The audit report states that an overhead pedestrian bridge at Khanbal area of South Kashmir was allotted by the PWD for work in September 2011 at a cost of Rs 0.64 crore.
“Rs 0.23 crore were spent on the bridge during 2012 and 2014,” the report states. “However, the design of the bridge was changed to Y type Foot X-ings, for which revised project was prepared in September 2013 at a cost of Rs 1.71 crore. The contractor demanded high rates. Later the work was abandoned in April 2014, which resulted in unfruitful expenditure of 0.23 crore.”
Similarly, the report states that work on the construction of a foot bridge over Pohru Nallah in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district was estimated to cost Rs 1.88 crore. Work on the bridge was started in 2010-2011, but was stopped in June 2014 after the completion of two piers at a cost of Rs 1.52 crore. Again, changes in the proposal had been made midway for turning the foot bridge into a motorable one.
“Thus Rs 1.52 crore spent on the construction of the bridge proved unfruitful,” the report concludes.
In Khanbal division of Guree and Kherpora, a steel girder bridge, costing Rs 1.38 crore, was taken up in 2011-12.
“Rs 0.72 crore was spent on the construction of left abutment of the bridge as of August 2015. Balance works had not been taken up for execution despite lapse of five years, rendering the expenditure of 0.72 crore unfruitful,” the report adds.
The audit report states that despite its findings having been presented to the government in July 2016, no reply was received as of December 2016.
“The reply is waited,” the report stated.