VIVEK SHARMAJAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir Government is contemplating probe into the irregularities committed in the execution of Artificial Lake Project on River Tawi, which had been conceptualised on the pattern of Sabarmati River Front. Mired in allegations of irregularities, the completion of so-called dream project is likely to get further delayed. According to sources, the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has recommended Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) probe into the growing allegations to ascertain facts related to irregularities in connection with the construction of auto-mechanically operated Gated Barrage across Tawi–a component of the project.
E X C L U S I V E
This project was allotted to Hyderabad based GVR Infra Projects Limited. On July 19 this year, the Director General PD&MD had submitted an expert committee report to Finance Department of the J&K Government, which was subsequently submitted to Chief Secretary for approval. This expert committee, consisting of experts from Planning and Finance departments besides representatives from the engineering wing was constituted on May 29, 2019 vide Government order number PD&MD/Audit report/01-04/2019. After examining the expert committee report, however, the office of Chief Secretary made certain observations, pointing that technical sanction had not been accorded to the project; mobilization advance of Rs 1.586 crore has not been recovered from the contractor, bank guarantee against the advance has not been revalidated, over payment of Rs 1.51 crore has been made in violation, expenditure of Rs 1.45 crore has been made out of the deposits of the contractor in violation of norms and the payment has been made without carrying out measurement of work-done.
Accordingly, the committee has recommended punitive action against the officers, officials responsible for release of excess payment and in committing irregularities in the project.
Sources further informed that in view of these observations, the Chief Secretary had referred the matter to the Law Department for opinion, seeking information whether the contract can be cancelled at this stage for retendering and whether the matter be referred to ACB at this stage for thorough investigations of the irregularities committed in executing the project.
They said that the Law Department has opined that so far retendering of the project is concerned, the party concerned is required to be put on a comprehensive notice containing full details together with liquated damages suffered by the department. The party, in such a scenario, is also required to be put on notice that all the consequences arising in the event of putting the project to retendering including cost escalations shall be at its risk and responsibility.
The Law Department has recommended the matter to be referred to the ACB for investigation.
Following this, the Commissioner Secretary PHE, I&FC had been directed to proceed as per the opinion of Law Department. However, for obvious reasons, the file had been kept pending, as many heads would roll in the wake of investigations.
Sources said that when the issue came again in focus, the government has almost decided to have ACB investigation conducted.
The idea of Artificial lake on river Tawi was conceived keeping in view the Sabarmati river front, which is the biggest tourism attraction spot in Gujrat. However, the bureaucratic delays, lack of expert technical advice and allotment of contractor to incompetent company has led to cost escalation in the past ten years. Of Rs 70 crore earmarked for the project , Rs 55 crore has been spent so far.
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