As many as 14 officials of the Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board (TWAD) have quit, including five seeking voluntary retirement, unable to withstand the strain because of a drinking water project being implemented in Perambalur district, N. Chandrashekaran, Executive Engineer, TWAD, said on Thursday. When there were persistent questions at farmers' grievances day regarding the project meant to cater to 306 habitations in the district at an estimate of Rs. 61.1 crore, he was candid enough to admit in the presence of Collector Darez Ahmed, who was in the chair, that the project had frustrated a few officials because of the rocky terrain through which the pipelines to a distance of 540 km had to be laid. He pointed out that the project began in 2008. When 25 per cent of the works had been completed the problem reared its ugly head.

“The contractor who has been entrusted with the task has completed the work wherever there is no problem with the soil. However, he did not bother to lay the pipeline if the spot is rocky. We have fined him to an extent of Rs 1.34 crore,” he said. Mr. Chandrashekaran said that of the 250 places where the pipes had to be laid, the TWAD had completed the work at almost 235 places. “Even one km work takes one month at times (because of the terrain).”

He said it was difficult to entrust the work to any other contractor because virtually no one was willing to work which cost Rs. 1,000, 10 times more in certain areas of this project. Hence,the same contractor has been roped in.