EVEN THOUGH the poor condition of roads in Chandigarh has been causing much misery to commuters in the last one year, the civic body spent just 26 percent of funds allocated for the improvement of roads in the fiscal year 2019-20.
According to details with Chandigarh Newsline, a sum of Rs 120 crore was approved for recarpeting of Chandigarh roads for the fiscal year 2019-20, but the Municipal Corporation spent a mere Rs 31.54 crore on this work from April 1 to December 31, 2019, when most of the recarpeting is done as road repair is discontinued in the winters.
Roads in many parts of the city are again crying for repair but the top brass has been looking the other way. A senior official of the building and roads wing (B&R) of the engineering department said many contractors left their work midway due to a spate of inspections and objections in the months of July and August.
“Fund crunch was not a reason but contractors were unhappy with officers raising objections about the quality of work, and the stretch of roads to be recarpeted. A contractor is paid for the entire road stretch and not patch-wise. So, most of them left the work midway and did not apply for new bids. As a result, work worth Rs 32 crore was left incomplete,” the officer said.
He added, “Then the officers started saying that roads will be recarpeted on the basis of priority, with the most critical areas to be attended first. The contractors got discouraged and did not come forward even for minor repairs, saying it didn’t benefit them. The quality checks also discouraged them.”
Chandigarh Newsline, in a series of reports in July last year, had highlighted how the freshly recarpeted roads did not last for even two months. Following the series, the MC Commissioner had signed a memorandum of understanding with NITTTR to ensure road quality checks. The contractors, it seems, did not take kindly to these inspections.
Citing another reason for the low spending, engineering wing officials said the UT Adviser gave the go-ahead to road recarpeting works only in December, when the season is not conducive for this work. “That is why we could just spend Rs 31.54 crore of the entire funds approved for roads.”
The officials claimed that repair work has been pending for the last two years, from 2017. To this, Congress councilor Devinder Singh Babla said, “When Davesh Moudgil was the Mayor, MC got Rs 50 crore for roads. Where did that money go if they say road repair works have been pending since 2017? There should be a CBI probe into the matter as these officials first splurge on unnecessary things, and then declare a financial crisis.”
He added, “Was renovation of the first three floors of MC office a priority? Did they need to replace new pavers? It is just that they spend as per their wish and when it comes to roads, they point to empty coffers.”
Roadwork to begin on Feb 15: Commissioner
Municipal Commissioner KK Yadav said the road recarpeting work will begin from February 15.
He said that in the first phase, critical roads would be recarpeted for a sum of Rs 63 crore. “Tenders have been allotted and Rs 32.20 crore will be spent on recarpeting of 271.08 kilometers, and Rs 31.56 crore will be spent on 221 kilometers of stretch in the next phase,” he said.
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