GUWAHATI, March 19 - PWD Minister Parimal Suklabaidya today said the government has taken serious note of the irregularities and malpractices in construction of roads and bridges in the State and besides initiating probes into the individual cases, a number of measures have been taken to ensure accountability and better work quality.
The minister admitted to have come across irregularities like submission of fabricated photos of executed works, use of substandard materials and other malpractices and said separate investigations have been launched into the cases.
�We have caught two/three such cases (of photoshoped pictures of executed work). Earlier, contractors and a section of engineers used to work in a system (nexus). There are 56,000 km of roads. It is not easy to change things immediately. But we are taking action as and when we are coming across the instances,� the minister told The Assam Tribune today, a day after suspending four officials of the department on charges of slipshod work on a bridge at Karimganj in Barak Valley.
He said that in the event of any allegations or complaints, the deputy commissioners of the districts have been directed to conduct joint visits with PWD officials to sites and if necessary, lodge police cases against the erring engineers. �Already, such an FIR has been lodged at Silchar,� he said.
Specifically asked about allegations that there are road projects which are only on papers and never executed at all despite release of the bills, the minister said, �I cannot rule this out. But technically, it is not easy to detect such cases, especially if another project like repair or widening had been sanctioned at the site at a later stage.�
Suklabaidya said there had been a facility for conducting quality control tests of the PWD works, but the system was not effective. �To ensure a better quality control mechanism, we are now contemplating on making a team with good retired engineers. I have already spoken to the Chief Minister about it. We are planning to engage the team and pay them an honorarium for the service,� he said.
The minister also informed that the PWD has now incorporated a condition in the tender document mandating the contractor to ensure maintenance of the constructed road for a period of one year after completion of the work. Such a provision is already there in case of the PMGSY roads.
Suklabaidya said he is also planning to personally visit some districts this season and inspect the quality of work. The process of tender will be made online up to the division level to prevent irregularities in the exercise, he added.