Despite numerous infrastructure projects running late or sometimes never being delivered at all, the Public Works Department never penalises erring contractors, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s State Finance Report on Meghalaya for the year 2021-22 has found.
The report was tabled in the Assembly earlier this week.
As on March 31, 2022, there were 124 incomplete projects in Meghalaya that had overshot their scheduled completion dates by over one to more than 10 years, with Rs 796.15 crore having been sunk into these incomplete projects by that date.
About one-third of the 124 projects were not even 50 per cent complete, the CAG stated. By number of years, 67 had been delayed by more than three years and six for more than 10 years.
The auditor does not check on all the projects but subjects them to random checks. Of these ‘test checked’ incomplete works, the CAG found that the PWD never imposed any penalties, such as levying liquidated damages, recovering cost escalations due to abandonment of work, or blacklisting contractors. Instead, it would merely issue routine reminders to slow contractors.
“This indicated poor monitoring and supervision of the works by the department, which resulted in undue delay/abandonment of works by the contractors. Delay in completion of projects not only resulted in unnecessary locking up of capital, but also denied the citizens of the economic benefits of these projects,” the report stated.
Of the test checked records of the PWD Roads division, scrutiny of the data showed that five projects that were sanctioned in March 2015 and scheduled to be completed by March 2018 are lying abandoned till the date of audit in November 2022. These works were awarded to CCL International Pvt Ltd, which supposedly specialised in German green concrete road technology. Out of the total tendered cost of Rs 7.12 crore, Rs 2.51 crore had already been incurred by the department but there was no physical progress of the projects.
Out of the five projects, three overlapped with other schemes (PMGSY, SPF and RIDF) and, in the remaining two, the contractor has not resumed work despite repeated reminders.
The above three overlapped works are still incomplete till the date of audit. Scrutiny of records in October 2022 revealed that two works which were sanctioned in September 2006 and scheduled to be completed by 2009 remained incomplete till 2012 after incurring an expenditure of Rs 99.86 lakh due to demise of the contractor in 2012. The incomplete portion of these works were re-tendered in July 2013 and a work order was issued in September 2016 to RB Corporation of Tura after a delay of three years. The cost of works had been revised to Rs 3.16 crore and Rs 2.52 crore respectively on February 14, 2022. However, these two projects are still lying incomplete even after a lapse of 13 years from their scheduled date of completion (September 2017) after incurring an expenditure of Rs 5.31 crore by March 2022.
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