|Saying that the project was delayed for over seven months, the Dialogue and Development Commission (DDC) of Delhi has recommended investigation into the Ashram underpass project in its report to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.|
The report, by DDC vice-chairperson Ashish Khetan, was submitted to the Chief Minister, who is also the chairperson of the DDC, on Tuesday.
As per the report, the DDC looked into delays in getting administrative and financial approval for the project by the Public Works Department. The project, which was approved by the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure, Planning and Engineering Centre (UTTIPEC) on January 13, 2016, was meant to ease congestion at Ashram Chowk junction.
As per the DDC report, PWD engineers had prepared a preliminary estimate of ₹86.74 crore on September 14, 2016. The report says the engineers were asked to make a fresh estimate based on “certain suggestions made by PWD Minister” Satyendar Jain, regarding the rates used.
The report says the executive engineer concerned then “addressed the concerns” of the Minister and recommended on February 2, 2017, that the file be forwarded to the Expenditure Finance Committee, but then PWD Secretary Ashwani Kumar declined to do so. As per the report, Mr. Kumar asked raised some queries, including that the estimate was not in alignment with the Minister’s stance and that the estimate should be prepared as per the Delhi Schedule of Rates.
The report further states that the engineer replied on March 4 that the rates were as per the Central Public Works Department Manual and asked that they be reconsidered. As per the report,a revised estimate of ₹87.53 crore was made but sent back with queries by the Secretary on April 19.
As per the report, the then Secretary made observations on five occasions from February 28 to May 31, and did not forward the file for financial approval. The DDC said there was a need for an investigation into the matter.
Meanwhile, sources associated with the project said the project was held up so a correct estimate could be made. Usually, the PWD takes the cost of a similar project done elsewhere in the country and then escalate it using today’s prices. However, that method would not be as realistic, said a senior official.