Several districts in Punjab were spared the flood fury in August this year, but that didn’t deter engineers in those districts from submitting loss estimates for damage to link roads caused by floods.
This came to fore during a verification of the claims by an apex committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Development).
There’s more: The executive engineers of Public Works Department (Building and Roads) and the Punjab Mandi Board had pegged the total estimated damage to the link roads at Rs 106 crore. However, the apex committee, which also gives administrative approvals for money to be spent on roads, following verification pegged the losses at Rs 36 crore – almost one third of what engineers’ estimates said.
A government functionary said that after officials of both PWD (B&R) and the Mandi Board sent in their reports, the superintending engineers were asked to cross check the estimates. The Superintending Engineers PWD (B&R) checked the estimates submitted by the Mandi Board engineers and vice versa. At the end of it, the estimates were revised to Rs 36 crore.
Sources said that after a meeting, the apex committee recorded in proceedings that the engineers in the districts which were not even hit by floods submitted the loss estimates attributing the damage to link roads to floods.
At several other places, a government functionary said, the loss estimates did not match with the quantum of damage.
Earlier, on August 30, the PWD (B&R) had released the preliminary damage assessment report regarding the roads, bridges and buildings falling under its jurisdiction. The report said that due to “recent heavy rains and floods, approximately 1450 km link roads, 420 km plan roads/ national highways, 36 bridges and 36 buildings under jurisdiction of PWD (B&R) have been damaged”. It had found the maximum damage to link roads and plan roads at 693.96 km and 123.1 km, respectively, in district Rupnagar. Stating that Rs 95.50 crore was required for the repairs, the report had said that “exact cost can be estimated only when the flood water recedes completely”.
Meanwhile, the functionary quoted above said that even the revised estimate of Rs 36 crore appeared on “higher side” and a committee of senior officials of both PWD (B&R) and the Mandi Board dealing with quality control and infrastructure was likely to carry another exercise to reassess the loss due to floods.
Largely, link roads in Punjab are not in the pink of their health. The total length of the link roads in Punjab is about 62,000 kilometers. The total stretch is divided in two equal halves between Punjabi Mandi Board and PWD (B&R) for maintenance. Link roads are the property of the Punjab Mandi Board, which is also the hundred per cent funding agency.