At a review meeting held by the Chennai Corporation this week, most of the contractors who are in charge of creating a grid system of roads under the Rs.333-crore mega city development mission claimed that the work was under way in more than 30 localities in some of the new zones in the city.

This augurs well for the successful development of civic infrastructure in all the wards of newly added zones in Manali, Madhavaram, Valasaravakkam and Sholinganallur in addition to many of the wards of Ambattur, Alandur and Perungudi. The work on grid system of roads, that includes streetlights, street furniture, footpaths and stormwater drains, has been funded by a grant of the State government. The project has been divided into 31 different packages worth around Rs. 10 crore each and contractors for over 22 packages have been finalised after stringent technical and financial scrutiny of the bids by the civic body's officials.

However, the retender on May 11, conducted for the third time, for the remaining nine packages, covering the whole of Tiruvottiyur zone and parts of Manali, Ambattur, Alandur and Perungudi, was yet again a disappointment to the civic body's officials as contractors were extremely reluctant to bid.

The two packages in Tiruvottiyur and one package each in Ambattur, Alandur and Perungudi will go for retender for the fourth time.

As the civic body's officials will continue to stick to their position of adhering to the strict norms of the tender, the next retender too might end up leaving residents of these areas unhappy.

Two factors have emerged as challenges to the implementation of the project.

Most of the eligible class-I contractors are scared of pilferage in such newly added areas and are not even participating in the technical stage of the bid. Those who were finally willing quoted high rates to cope with this issue. So, the bids were not accepted by the Corporation officials at the financial stage of the bid.

The second factor is the involvement of the local-level politicians who have their own vested interests in preventing the bid by a class-I contractor for the mega city development mission. This interference has played a major role in hindering the plans of the Minister for Municipal Administration K.P. Munusamy who had assured the residents during the inaugural ceremony that the work would be completed before the monsoons in all the newly added zones.

Steps by the police to restore confidence among residents in law enforcement in such localities may facilitate a change the stance of the class-I contractors. But political will at the highest level is certainly required to ensure there is no interference in this prestigious project.

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Aloysius Xavier LopezJune 28, 2012

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