MPs, MLAs ‘main hurdle’ in non-execution of development works

SRINAGAR: The public ‘representatives’ are proving impediments in non-implementation of centrally sponsored flagship schemes in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the latest report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, the Executive Engineers of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) for Anantnag, Udhampur and Rajouri in their replies to the audit department have stated that the Comprehensive New Connectivity Priority Lists (CNCPL) could not be implemented due to pressure from the MPs and MLAs of the areas.
According to the scheme guidelines, a core network and district level CNCPL proposed road links are taken on priority basis. But the audit documents show that though the CNCPL had been prepared by all the eight test-checked divisions Programme Implementation Units (IPUs), the order of priority in selection of habitations had not been adhered to; with the result that 92 road links to the habitations with populations size of 1000 persons and above were left out and habitations with smaller population size were accorded priority.
The report also says that work of construction of 140 road projects was allotted to 33 “inexperienced and ineligible” contractors at a whopping cost of Rs 578.22 crore.
The report points out major flaws in implementing the PMGSY scheme, saying the construction work of 93 road projects with sanctioned cost of Rs 380.70 crore had been allotted to 26 contractors at a cost of Rs 347.67 crore during 2007-8 to 2011-12 by the Chief Engineers PMGSY of Kashmir and Jammu “who had no experience of construction of road projects.”
Audit examinations of records, the CAG says, showed that the conditions prescribed for necessary qualification of a contractor had not been followed by the department while awarding contracts of road projects under the programme.
“Audit noticed that the contracts of these road projects had been allotted to Hot Mix Plant holders, traders, etc, who had no experience in construction of road projects,” it says.
It says the Public works (R&B) Department had awarded 47 road projects to seven contractors at a cost of Rs 230.55 crore during the period from 2009-10 to 2011-12. And the department had accepted documents from the bidders not of their own but of other entities which had nomenclature similar to the contractor bidding for the contracts and which include the certificates of turnover, experience, etc of other existing entities.
Out of 4163 unconnected habitations as of April 2000, a total of 1443 were connected during the period 2000-13 and 2720 habitations were yet to be connected at the end of March 2013.
“Out of 2476 habitations sanctioned for connectivity by the government of India during the period 2000-13, a total of 1033 habitations remained to be connected as of March 2013,” the CAG report says about the achievement of the PMGSY scheme in the state.
The PMGSY was launched in the state in December 2000 to provide all-weather roads (with necessary culverts and cross­ drainage structures, which is operable throughout the year) to unconnected habitations in the rural areas with a population of 500 persons and above (250 in hilly areas).
So far under the scheme the department could only complete 715 road projects with road length 2373 kms out of sanctioned 1732 road projects with an estimated road length of 8753 kms.
“Under the programme as of March 2013, 1017 road projects with road length 6380 kms are yet to be completed,” the CAG report says.
Test-check records showed that construction of 42 road projects had been awarded to three contractors at a cost of Rs 249.93 crore during the period from 2007-08 to 2011-12 to be completed within 12 months from the date of allotment.
However, audit scrutiny of records, the CAG says, showed that agreements were executed by the Chief Engineers PMGSY Kashmir as well as Jammu with the local representatives of these contractors.
“The construction work on these road projects started by the contractors through their local representative could not be completed within the allotted time due to deployment of inadequate machinery.”
Failure to notice shortcomings at the time of tendering process led to unauthorized subletting of contracts in 42 road projects involving expenditure of Rs 102.96 crore, the auditor says.
“Non-compliance of orders of the Chief Engineer by the programme implementation units resulted in release of irregular payment of Rs 30.28 crore to the contractor,” it says.
It also says the maximum period of 65 days prescribed in the programme guidelines for finalization of contracts could not be adhered and delays in the bidding process in respect of 217 road projects ranged from 12 to 722 days.
Programme fund amounting to Rs 375.72 crore had been irregularly spent on the construction of 163 ineligible road projects, the report says.
“…464 road projects could not be completed in time resulting in blocking of investment of Rs 949.06 crore,” the report adds.