TODAY -

BJP contradicts self: Cong
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 15 2021: The Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee has derided the BJP led Government for the contrasting statements from Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

Congress spokesperson N Bupenda, in a press briefing held here at Congress Bhavan today, not only stated that the statements by the Union Minister and the Chief Minister were contradictory but also noted that the Chief Minister's deadline for completing Barak and Irang bridges as phyically, financially and logistically impractical.

A PIB press release dated July 12 clearly mentioned inauguration and foundation laying of 16 National Highway Projects worth Rs 4,184 cr for a total of 298 kms of roads, sanctioning of projects worth Rs 5,000 cr for the State etc by the Union Minister, but ironically, the inauguration of Makru bridge was not mentioned, the spokesperson said.

The Congress party takes serious note of the Union Minister's public statement on the slow work progress, maintenance of quality standards, desire for honesty in work and remarks on leadership, he said while adding that the party has been raising the same for betterment of the State's developments in terms of roads and highways.

To validate his charges, Bupenda stated that the Union Minister had said that there was no dearth of money in his Ministry for the development of the State but he laid the foundation of 16 NH (National Highway) Projects worth Rs 4,184 cr for a total length of 298 km, which is Rs 14.04 cr per km, whereas his own Minister, as per Para 5.5 in the Annual Report of 2020-21, has recently awarded Rs 2,939 cr for 181 km, which is Rs 16.23 cr per km in the State.

He then questioned why the Union Minister laid the foundation of the projects at Rs 2.19 cr less for every kilometre than it had been awarded in the previous year if there was no dearth of money.

Bupenda also asked why the Union Minister has sanctioned projects worth Rs 5,000 cr for the State when Rs 18,331 cr has been already prepared in DPR for the State as on May 31 according to a report of the Ministry's own company NHIDCL.

Can it be considered a sign of having no 'money issue' in the Ministry, he asked.

According to the PIB release, the Union Minister had stated that the expansion of Highways in the State would be recommended under the Bharatmala Phase II.

But, the fact is under Bharatmala Phase - I, already Rs 10,030 cr for 736 km for Manipur has been prepared as DPR, as per the Ministry's NHIDCL Report (as on May 31, 2021), he said.

On this, the spokesperson questioned how many crores of rupees has Manipur received under Bharatmala Phase - I and when Rs 10,030 cr will be sanctioned under Phase-I which is expected to end by 2022.He also asked how many crores will the Ministry plan to sanction for Manipur under Bharatmala Phase - II, which is expected to be ended by 2024.Green Highways (Plantation, Transportation, Beautification & Maintenance) Policy, 2015, mentioned that 1% of the total project cost of all highway projects will be kept aside for the 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 Ministry's NHIDCL Report, as on May 31, 2021, for Manipur, ongoing works under 'Original Works' has a cost of Rs 8203 cr for 864 km, he noted and questioned whether Rs 82 cr (1% of Rs 8203 cr) according to Green Highways Policy, has been used to plant trees and provide local employment along highways in Manipur.

He also asked how many crores have been utilized under the policy in the State or whether the audit for the trees planted has been conducted.

The release also noted the Union Minister as saying that the Prime Minister is giving highest priority to Manipur and the North East, and questioned why the Prime Minister is allowing decrease in fund for highways in respect to previous year and why he (PM) has not talked about solving climate change issues by strictly ensuring the auditing of planted trees as per the 1% Green Highways Policy since 2014, questioned Bupenda.

The Congress spokesperson asked what are the actual lengths of the bridges as the total length of Makru and Barak bridges is 2 km as per Union Ministry's status report, as on June 30 last whereas the length of Makru bridge is around 124 metres while that of Barak bridge is around 154 metres according to newspaper reports.

He further questioned on what basis the Chief Minister stated that the Barak bridge will be completed by September this year while the cumulative physical progress of the projects of Makru & Barak bridges, as per the Ministry's status report, as on June 30 last is 70.40 percent.

At the current speed it will take around 1 year and 9 months from July to complete the Barak bridge, he claimed.

Moreover the Chief Minister, according to newspaper reports, is expecting to complete Irang bridge by December this year while the contractor, as per Ministry's status report, mentioned that the date of completion would be November 11, 2023, he noted and questioned who will build the bridge, the Chief Minister or the contractor.

An even if the bridge is completed before time, then who will be held responsible if the quality standards turn out to be compromised in future, he asked while maintaining how can the quality standards of the bridge be not compromised when the bridge, with physical progress of 2.94%, as per the Ministry's status report, be made to be completed within 6 months.


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