Multi crore Imphal-Tamei Road contract lands in eye of storm

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IMPHAL, Nov 1: Although burdened with pending case at the Gauhati High Court, Imphal bench over alleged siphoning off money meant for the development of Imphal-Tamei road (IT) repeatedly by sanctioning three works orders for the same works, the state PWD has deepened the controversy by awarding a contract estimated to cost Rs 66.86 crores under the NEC for the improvement of Imphal-Tamenglong Road, IT road, to contractors without going through the formality of inviting tenders.

It may be mentioned, the North Eastern Council (NEC) accorded Administrative Approval for improvement of the IT road with an estimated cost of Rs 66.86 crores, and the amount has been released on March 25 earlier this year after approval by the Ministry of DoNER on March 17, 2010.

On the other hand, as per the official guidelines given by the NEC, 10 percent of the approved cost was to be provided by the state government in terms of the Government of India’s acceptance of the recommendation made by the 12th Finance Commission and 10 percent of the loan is to be released in proportion to the NEC release.

The work will have to be completed by June, 2012.

The implementing agency is also to ensure that award of the work is completed for the entire stretch within three months of the issue of administrative approval order.

As far as possible, key contract was also to be given for the entire stretch to one party to ensure standardised quality.

The official guidelines of the NEC also directs that, the expenditure on the works during the current financial year should be met from the total provision made in the budget for NEC plan scheme for 2009-10 in respect of Road and Bridges schemes (Major Head ‘3601’) to be implemented by the government of Manipur.

It also stipulated that work shall be awarded within three months of issuance of the Administrative Approval by the government. It is also mentioned in the guideline that the work will be executed by the state government through Public Works Department. The expenditure pertaining to the works should be classified in the state government budget and the department’s accounts in accordance with the instructions contained in the Ministry of Finance and Department of Economic Affairs letter No. F.1 (40)-B-75 dated July 22, 1975 addressed to Account General with a copy endorsed to the Finance Department of the state government.

The guidelines further mentioned that sanction for the works will be issued by the state government according to the procedure. It should be ensure that before taking up the work and issue of technical sanction, a detail estimate is prepared by complying fully with the technical sanction by the EFC.

The official guidelines of the NEC also further mentioned that, financial assistance to the state government towards expenditure on the scheme will be provided every quarter based on the quarterly physical and financial progress reports to be furnished by the chief engineer, government of Manipur, PWD in the prescribed proforma to reach the director (E&M) of the Council Secretariat by 15th of the month following each quarter. The first installment of payment will be released on receipt of a copy of the technically sanctioned estimate from the state government.

On the other hand, various social leaders and representatives of the Tamei and Tamenglong Public Forum are of the view that the existing Imphal-Tamenglong Road commonly known as IT Road has been a den of corruption for the government of Manipur for the last many decades. It is also learned from the reliable source that Government of India has earmarked a sum of Rs 5 crores every year for the improvement of the IT road by physical implementation in the field does not worth even Rs 50 lakh and the people of the areas were seriously concerned about where have all the money gone.

Social workers and the Forum have questioned as to why the state government, particularly state works department, finance minister do not invite for open tender of those approved works to the deserving work agencies. On the other hand it is also learned from the reliable source that the whole amount of Rs 66.86 crores are being issued to few contractors who were picked and chose by the state works minister, finance and engineers, they charged.

They further said, unless those works allotted through back-door to a handful of corrupt contractors are not cancelled and invite fresh tender through notification in the print and electronic medias, the forum along with the many social leaders of the areas will not remain silent spectator.

They further said, they will fix responsibility upon those erring minister, engineers and official concerned. It will even to take the help of law court till its demands are fulfilled and therefore they further jointly urged the state government, works minister Finance and works department to issue notification for open tender immediately. Failing which, it will take the help of law court and the NEC to withhold the sanctioned amount until the works are allotted through proper channel in a transparency manner.

They further mentioned that, the social leaders and TPF along with the public of the areas will organised the general public and like minded civil societies, NGOs to launch agitation against the erring department minister, engineers till justice is done to them beside the public of Tamenglong will not remain silent over mismanagement of crores of public money by few gluttons, they added.

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