ACAUT seeks R&B Minister to clarify on Dimapur road projects
DIMAPUR, JUNE 13 : The ACAUT Nagaland on Monday asked the Minister for Roads and Bridges, Y Vikheho Swu to explain as to why his department has paid the entire amount of project cost to contractors – for at least four separate “maintenance and repair” projects in Dimapur – even before the completion of works.
An RTI reply furnished by the department concerned on May 23 last shows that the total cost of the four projects adds up to Rs 2 crore. The projects in question include repair works carried out at the stretch of road between Khermahal police point to Deluxe point, from Khermahal police point to Neisatuo colony, from Zion hospital to “Government Primary School Purana Bazaar Tolovi,” and the approach road to the flyover near the railway station.
According to the RTI reply, as of May 23 last, the department concerned had released the entire cost of each of the projects. On Monday ACAUT members along with some reporters from the local newspapers visited the said locations.
At the said stretch between Zion Hospital and “Government Primary School Purana Bazaar Tolovi”, there was no sign of any repair or construction of roads. There was a narrow bylane that appeared to be recently constructed but a signage clearly indicated that it was constructed under the Local Area Development Programme.
According to the information given by the department, the cost of this particular project named as “improvement of road from Zion hospital to Government Primary School Purana Bazaar Tolovi was Rs 50 lakh.
Even the stretch of road leading up to the flyover, from both sides, bears no visible “repair or maintenance” works initiated. For this project too, the government has released the full amount of Rs 50 lakh.
At the stretch from Khermahal police point to Neisatuo colony, the repair works have been done only in patches. Yet the full amount of Rs 40 lakh has been released already for this project, according to the information provided by the department.
The Khermahal police point to Deluxe point stretch was “completed” recently. The ACAUT had filed the RTI application about a month back. The cost of this particular project was Rs 60 lakh.
In the RTI application, the ACAUT had also enquired about the construction of road from Dhobinullah junction to Thakekhu village. The department has informed that the out of the Rs 5 crore estimated in the work order, Rs 4 crore has been released for the project.
Members of ACAUT Nagaland pointed also out that the department concerned did not invite open tenders for any of the projects through newspapers or any other medium with access to the public. In the RTI reply, the department has claimed that it was due to “the limited working period”.
This was rubbished by ACAUT members, who pointed out that a window of 14-15 days was enough for the department to issue short tender notices against the said projects. This is a “pure case of favoritism and cronyism,” according to an ACAUT member.
“The government loves to talk about not having money. Then how can they even release the full amount to the contractors when the works are not even completed? Moreover, this is also a complete contravention of department guidelines.
“The Minister for Roads and Bridges must explain to the Naga public. He cannot just wash this away. He has said that the people are also to be blamed for the bad roads. But how can the people trust the department when things are like this?” he stated.
Even the RTI reply furnished by the department concerned is of questionable nature, they said. It was pointed out that except for the Dhobinullah-Thahekhu project, the rest of the projects’ work orders did not mention the date on which they were issued.
One of the tenders did not even mention the time period during which the interested contractors could purchase the “bidding tender documents” from the department’s office. All the tenders, interestingly, have been dated November 27, 2015.
The ACAUT members stated that this too was a clear violation of RTI rules, giving false information to mislead the public.