With Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar proposing third party intervention to check the quality of projects in the district, the administration is in a hurry to hand over work to the appointed agencies. However, this being the second year of such an initiative, elected representatives and citizens are not very hopeful that things would improve with the new appointment.
At the recently convened meeting of the District Planning and Development Council (DPDC), the DCM announced the initiative by appointing College of Engineering Pune (CoEP), Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics as well as Tata Consultancy to assess the various development works in the district, which were under construction and also those that had been completed.
The administration has already delegated work worth Rs 37 crore to CoEP as part of the initiative and are working towards giving out the remaining work to the other two organisations. “CoEP has been assigned the task of checking the quality of Ashram schools for tribal students,” said planning officials. While all the remaining development work will be allocated to the other agencies as well, officials maintained that this was the first year of work actually being carried out, in spite of a similar initiative being mooted last year by the DCM.
Elected representatives, who had voiced their discontent with the quality of works as well as officials failing to finish development works in the districts, were reprimanded by the DCM at the DPDC, and this was considered an alternative. However, the representatives are not very hopeful that things would change. “Even as more amount will be spent on appointment of such agencies, what assurance do we have that the administration will carry out their recommendations? It should not be a waste of money,’’ said one of the elected representatives.
Another members said all the appointed contractors should be screened and if any of them was found doing shoddy work, then they should be blacklisted. Appointment of another agency will not help,’’ said the representative.
“Why can’t we have qualified people carry out the work. The trial-and-error method is a waste of public money,’’ said a resident. For each of the work being given to the agencies, they have them charging a percentage of the estimate. ‘Why can’t checks and balances be managed well in the first step itself,’’ asked another elected representative.
The members have said the works had not only been delayed, but they were also of sub-standard nature and materials used by contractors were of poor quality. The representatives had even said that officials, who were looking after the work, were not providing any updates even after repeated follow-ups.
The DPDC allocates funds for public work under various heads. The development work includes construction and repairs of small roads, government establishments, small bridges on nullahs and streams, and construction of sheds.
Pawar asked the administration to appoint an agency to check quality of work. He asked the district collectors to conduct departmental probes if required and ensure that work was completed within the stipulated time.