TODAY -

Cong picks flaws in Govt's policy on projects in state
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, July 15 2021: Congress party has pointed out alleged flaws and 'self-contradictions' of the BJP governments both at the Centre and in the state with regard to the public statements made by union minister Nitin Gadkari and chief minister N Biren as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's special focus on Manipur and Northeast.

Addressing a virtual press meet on Thursday, Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) spokesperson Ningombam Bhupenda contended that the PIB press release dated July 12 mentioned that Nitin Gadkari inaugurated and laid foundation stones of 16 National Highways projects worth Rs 4,184 crore for a total length of 298 km of roads.

It also mentioned that projects worth Rs 5000 crore have been sanctioned for the state; expansion of highways in the state will be recommended under Bharatmala Phase - II; and the Prime Minister is giving highest priority to the North East.

Ironically, the inauguration of Makru Bridge by the union minister was not mentioned in the PIB press release.

The Union Minister's public statements against the CM on the slow progress of work, maintenance of quality standards, and desire for honesty in work and remarks on leadership, have been consistently raised by Congress for the sake of the state's infrastructural developments in terms of roads and highways.

Bhupenda recalled that the Union Minister said there was no dearth of money in his Ministry for the development of the state.

But he laid the foundation of 16 NH projects worth Rs 4,184 crore for a total length of 298 km, which is Rs 14.04 crore per km.

Whereas, his own ministry awarded similar projects at the rate of Rs 16.23 crore per km for the state in previous years.

He then asked why was the project cost reduced by Rs 2.19 crore from earlier sanctioned amount if there were no dearth of money in the Ministry and if the PM cares for the state.

Though the union minister stated that the projects worth Rs 5000 crore have been sanctioned for the state, NHIDCL's report released on May 31 this year stated that DPR of Rs 18,331 crore for 1422 km road had been submitted for the state, Bhupenda said while asking why the ministry sanctioned only Rs 5000 crore instead of the proposed amount of Rs 18,331 crore.

The minister stated that the expansion of highways in the state would be recommended under Bharatmala Phase - II.

But the fact is Rs 10.030 crore for 736 km of road has been prepared as DPR under Bharatmala Phase - 1, as per the NHIDCL Report.

He then asked how many crores of rupees have Manipur received and when will the proposed project of Rs 10.030 crore be sanctioned for the state under the Bharatmala Phase - 1, which is expected to end by 2022.He also asked how many crores of rupees the ministry will sanction for the state under Bharatmala Phase - II, which is expected to end by 2024.Bhupenda further said that the Green Highways (Plantation, Transportation, Beautification & Maintenance) Policy, 2015 mentions that 1 per cent of the total project cost of all highway projects will be kept aside for highway plantation and its maintenance, which will generate employment and every planted tree will be counted and auditing will be done using ISRO's Bhuvan and GAGAN satellite systems.

As per the NHIDCL Report, a total of Rs 8203 crore for 864 km of road has been spent for ongoing works, he said and asked if 1 per cent of the amount which sums up to Rs 82 crore has been used to plant trees and provide local employment along highways in Manipur.

He further asked whether the amount had been utilised under the Green Highways Policy in the state and if the Centre has carried out auditing of planted trees with ISRO & GAGAN Satellite systems.

The MPCC spokesperson further said that as per ministry's status report on June 30 this year, the total length of Makru and Barak bridges is 2 km, at a sanctioned cost of Rs 141 crore, which was awarded on December 2, 2016 .

But newspaper reports said that the length of Makru bridge is around 124 metres while that of Barak bridge is around 154 metres.

So, the total Iength of Makru & Barak bridges, as per newspapers, would be around 278 metres, which is only 13.9 per cent of the total length mentioned in the Ministry's status report.

He then demanded the government to clarify the actual length of completed Makru Bridge and length mentioned in the contract.

He also asked to know the meaning of "total length of 2 km of Makru & Barak bridges" as mentioned in the contract.

He went on to claim that CM Biren's deadline on completing Barak and Irang bridges is physically, financially and logistically impractical.

The CM set September this year as the deadline for Barak and December this year for Irang.

However, considering the progress of the construction work, the completion of Barak Bridge would take around 1 year and nine months from July, 2021 .

Contrary to the deadline for Irang Bridge set by the CM, the contractor, as per ministry's status report and contract agreement, mentions that the date of completion for the 4 lane bridge with 0.377 km of length would be January 11, 2023 .

Enquiring if it is the CM or the contractor who is building the bridge, he asked who will be held responsible if the quality standards turn out to be compromised.

He also asked how the quality standards of the bridge can be controlled when the bridge, with physical progress of 2.94%, as per the Ministry's status report, be forced to complete within 6 months.


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