‘Quality control mechanism weak’
DIMAPUR, AUGUST 6: Monitoring of various projects in Nagaland is poor and there is no quality control of the projects implemented thereby compromising the quality of works and materials used for construction in the State, according to the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India on General, Economic and Revenue Sectors for the year ended March 31, 2019 laid in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly on August 5 last.
The Report, in its audit on the working of Nagaland Public Works Department (Housing), said while Rule 77 of NPWD code stipulates that it is the duty of the Superintending Engineer to inspect various works in progress within his circle and to satisfy himself that the system of management prevailing is efficient and economical, none of the divisions furnished records on inspection of projects under their jurisdiction.
“Thus, in absence of these records, audit could not conclude that inspection/monitoring of projects, as envisaged by NPWD code, had been carried out.
“The site accounts maintained by the executing divisions did not indicate any monitoring or quality checks being conducted by the Superintending Engineers. Thus, there was no assurance that the duties assigned to Chief Engineer and Superintending Engineer as per Rules for inspecting/monitoring of projects were discharged”, it said.
The NPWD (H) is entrusted with the responsibility of creating residential and non-residential infrastructure in the State. During the period 2014-2019, the State Government sanctioned 254 new projects for Rs 671.95 crore comprising of residential and non-residential buildings.
Out of 71 projects taken up by 7 housing divisions, 26 were completed while 45 were on going as on March 2019. Similarly, out of 256 projects undertaken by 17 Engineering Divisions attached with other Departments during the period, 132 projects were completed while 124 were ongoing.
The CAG Report also highlighted that examination of records of CE (H) and 16 divisions revealed that no quality control checks or inspections were undertaken by the State Quality Control Board during the execution of projects during 2014-19. It observed that the State did not establish any laboratory for undertaking quality test of the materials used for the projects.
“This indicated weak quality control mechanism in the Department and would result in compromising with quality of works and materials used for construction”, it said.
The Report said during the exit conference, the Department stated that the State Quality Control Board could not do the mandatory checks due to absence of supporting staff and laboratory.
77 incomplete projects
The Report said out of 119 projects selected for audit in 16 sampled divisions, 77 projects (65%) remained incomplete. It observed that work orders in 4 projects at an estimated cost of Rs 77.99 crore were issued to contractors by the divisions before settlement of land issues. In two important projects, with an estimated cost of Rs 211.91 crore, land was handed over to the contractors after delay ranging from 7 to 37 months, leading to delay in commencement and completion of projects with avoidable cost escalation.
The CAG recommended the Government to ensure that detailed estimates for projects are prepared after detailed survey of topography and site condition, and ensure possession of land before award of work to contractors and handing over of site after award of work for commencement of works in time.
Advance payments to contractors
The Report also found that advance payment of Rs 17.15 crore to contractors was made by two divisions though there was no enabling clause in the agreement, neither did the Executive Engineers secure any lien on the materials brought to site by the contractors to safeguard Government financial interest.
Examination of records and joint physical verification of works revealed short execution of 72 items of works in 40 projects costing Rs 2.60 crore. It was also observed that 315 items of works, costing Rs 9.09 crore recorded in the Measurement Books, were not actually executed, resulting in irregular and excess payment of Rs 11.69 crore to contractors. Audit also observed delays in completion of 90 projects out of 119 selected projects due to delays in handing over land/site and funding delays, it said.
In 69 projects, provision for fire fighting was provided in the project report of only one project, thereby exposing the buildings and its inhabitants to dangers during a fire accident. Neither was any provision made for emergency exits in any of the major projects, the Report said.
The Report recommended the Department to ensure that fire safety measures are provided in all projects of the Government.
Accessible India Campaign
The Report also found implementation of Accessible India Campaign remained poor as provision of lifts and ramps were made only in a small number of important projects.
Examination of records revealed that out of the 69 major projects, provision of lift was provided only in 10 projects and provision of ramp was made in DPRs of 8 projects. Thus, the State needs to improve upon the implementation of Accessible India Campaign to create a barrier free environment in all the buildings, it recommended.
(Page News Service)