Despite having one contractor for every 26 citizens in Sikkim, quality of roads is still deplorable and working of department unprofessional says CAG report for the year 2010.
Road network is the only means of communication in Sikkim and is therefore the backbone of all economic and social activities. Keeping in perspective the role of road infrastructure in stirring economic and social development in the state and the state government’s commitment to transform Sikkim into an ideal state comparable to the best in the country, Public Works (Roads & Bridges) Department (RBD) initiated many projects.
But audit report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) shows many discrepancies in work conducted by the department. These irregularities indicate the unprofessional working of the department and obscurity in the bidding process of contracts.
The functioning of the department was evaluated against the backdrop of the government’s mission and the Sikkim Public Works (Roads & Bridges) department’s mandate. It was seen in the audit that the department had so far created 2,053 Km length of road network and constructed 198 bridges of various sizes besides ensuring smooth flow of traffic round the year by keeping the roads clear of blockades resulting from landslides and other natural calamities in the state’s mountainous terrain, which was appreciable.
Several areas of deficiencies were, however, noticed in the functioning of the department, such as, non-incorporation of the government’s mission into the functioning of the department, non-formulation of state road policy, absence of master plan of communication confirming to the government’s mission, absence of perspective planning, unrestrained sanction of projects without availability of funds leading to huge pending liabilities, lax projects management and quality control, violation of codal provision and terms and conditions of contracts leading to loss to government.
The CAG report also highlighted that despite the state government envisage developing Sikkim economically at par with the best in the country by 2015, the RBD had neither incorporated the government’s mission into its functioning nor formulated any road policy till date.
Non-existence of policy on road and grant of right of way to private companies led to loss of Rs. 5.49 crore to the state in the year 2011.
Due to indiscriminate sanction of projects without any master plan of communication, the department had a huge committed liability of Rs. 341.77 crore for which there was no financial resource to make payments to the contractors.
One of the major findings of the report is that despite registration of a large number of contractors under the department (one contractor for every 26 citizens), the level of competition in the bidding process was very poor indicating cartelization by contractors.
Quality control was not accorded due priority as the mandatory tests prescribed in MORTH and PWD (manual) was also not carried out.
(Based on the CAG report for the year ended 31 March 2010)