Figures were inflated to carry out unwarranted widening of road, it says

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has pulled up the Highways Department for cooking up “fictitious traffic” data to justify a project to widen the Puliyankulam road in Sivaganga.

In a report tabled in the Assembly on Wednesday for the year ending March 2012, the CAG said a scrutiny of the traffic census register at the office of the Divisional Engineer (Highways), Sivaganga Division, revealed that the division had adopted inflated figures to carry out an unwarranted widening of the road to double-lane thereby incurring an avoidable expenditure of Rs. 1.69 crore.

The widening of the Puliyankulam road from single lane to double lane was sanctioned in December 2010 on the grounds that the Passenger Car Units (PCU) of the road as per the traffic census undertaken in 2008 was 7,336. The work was awarded to a contractor for Rs. 6.63 crore.

The Indian Road Congress prescribes an intermediate lane of 5.5 metres width carriageway for service volumes between 2,000 and 6,000 PCUs and double lane of 7 m width for service volumes exceeding 6,000 PCU.

However, the CAG’s audit of the traffic census register at the office of the Divisional Engineer (Highways) in Sivaganga division revealed that the actual traffic density of the road as per a census of May 2008 was only 1,446 PCUs.

Even after working out projections for the next ten years as per the IRC recommendations keeping 2011 as base year, the traffic volume would only be 3,086 PCU. In other words, the road only merited widening to an intermediate lane as per IRC stipulations, the report said.

While the number of vehicles such as cars, jeeps, vans and three-wheelers for a 24-hour period in May 2008 was a mere 90, the Division had fudged the data to show it as 890 in the weekly traffic count to justify widening the road to double lane. Similarly, the actual number of bullock-carts and cycles which was 36 and 740 was modified to 436 and 1,740 respectively.

“There were a number of such irregular modifications in the traffic census in respect of other categories of vehicles also,” the CAG said.

While the Government responded that the road was widened adopting 7,502 PCU on the basis of traffic census of May 2010, it was not tenable as the Division had projected the census of 2008 in the estimate. Neither were there basic records available for the traffic census referred to by Government, the report said.

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