Highlighting the "ill-conceived" planning of the state government, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has revealed that failure of authorities to carry out proper surveys before executing works has held up construction of 18 bridges in Jammu and Kashmir leading to wastage of over Rs 26 crore.
The CAG report which was tabled before the State Legislative Assembly has mentioned that failure of authorities to carry proper surveys, has left the 18 bridges on hold, as some of them have been proposed to be redesigned after initially undertaking work on them, or some have no roadways to connect them, thus leading to wastage of expenditure.
"Audit noticed that 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 site which indicated lack of due diligence in site surveys and designs at the technical approval stage. Consequently, expenditure of Rs 26.92 crore (61 per cent of estimated cost of the works) was rendered unfruitful."
The report blames "lack of diligence in conduct of site surveys and in finalization of designed" as the main reason for wastage of public money.
"Lack of due diligence in conduct of site surveys and in finalization of design resulted in 18 works valued at Rs 43.95 crore being held up due to design change or land disputes after award of works rendering unfruitful expenditure of Rs 26.92 crore incurred thereon."
The CAG report mentions out of 14 bridges taken under Special Bridge Programme in Kashmir between 2001-02 and 2012-13, work on 10 bridges have been stopped.
"Work on 10 bridges (estimated cost of Rs 32.29 crore) was stopped due to non-construction of approach roads for their connectivity though Rs 19.90 crore had been spent. Similarly, four completed bridges estimated at the cost of Rs 3.75 crore on which Rs 3.24 crore was spent during 2010-11 to 2015-16 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."
As per the CAG report, no works should be commenced until a properly detailed design and estimate has been sanctioned and funds to cover the charge during the year have been provided by the competent authority
It may be recalled that the JK government under "political influence" had converted the skewed bridge into a foot bridge and went ahead with the construction of a new bridge parallel to Abdullah Bridge at Rajbagh here.
However, the High Court stayed the construction of a new bridge parallel to Abdullah Bridge underscoring that "it would not allow vandalizing of river Jhelum whose beautification has consumed huge funds."
The court also directed the government to complete construction of the skewed bridge in the area in keeping with its original plan, speedily.
While treating GK reports as a PIL, the High Court on April 10, this year, had ordered a status-quo on conversion of skewed bridge opposite Presentation Convent School here into a footbridge as well as construction of a new bridge parallel to the Abdullah Bridge in the Rajbagh area.