Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: An independent body will monitor the quality of road works in the State.

Announcing this in the Assembly on Monday while presenting the demands of his Ministry, Highways Minister M.P. Saminathan said a large sum was being spent through the Highways Department every year for development and maintenance of roads. The government would employ independent quality monitors.

In addition, it was proposed to form a separate quality control wing by redeploying engineers from various government wings. It was also proposed to set up 114 sophisticated quality control laboratories.

The Minister said a team under the Highways Research Station was undertaking extensive quality control tests.

For taking up maintenance works in an extensive manner, the government was planning to adopt a performance-based maintenance contract as a trial measure from the current financial year. Under the new system, contractors would be given annual payment during the contract period based on their performance, instead of the entire amount.

In the current financial year a provision of Rs. 849.39 crore had been made for the maintenance of government roads as well as panchayat and panchayat union roads.

Consultants had been appointed to prepare a feasibility study to examine the scope of improving State Highways on private-public partnership basis. On completion of the study, improvement works would be taken up. He said the government planned to conduct a strategic option study to prepare plans for the formation of new stretches of road. It would seek the assistance of the World Bank and other international agencies to develop those stretches.

The government had installed boundary stones on all State Highways and this would be extended to other roads in a phased manner. This would also aid removal of encroachments.

Roads connecting tourist spots in the State would be developed in the current year at a cost of Rs.25 crore. Roads that were affected frequently due to poor sub-soil conditions and large-scale movement of heavy vehicles would be identified and efforts made to know the causes and recommend methods for improving them.