N.J. Nair

Finance Department seeks details from Public Works Department

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Public Works Department (PWD) is learnt to have arranged 119 works costing Rs.102.90 crore in 2004-05 waiving the tender proceedings, causing heavy loss to the exchequer.

A series of works, including widening and repairing of roads, construction of bridges, culverts, retaining walls, buildings and civil works under the Modernising Government Programme (MGP), were awarded without following the tender proceedings.

The PWD manual says "all works to be awarded on contract should be settled on the basis of tenders." Though powers had been delegated to officers to waive tender calls, the manual does not permit splitting up of major works so that each part can be awarded without floating tenders.

While waiving tender proceedings, the works must be carried out either by the department or through negotiation with a contractor and the rates should not exceed the estimates. Rate escalation can be sanctioned only on reasonable grounds. There have been complaints that such proceedings had not been followed while awarding the works.

Some major works undertaken in this manner are electrification of the G.V. Raja Sports School at Mylam at an estimated cost of Rs.13.52 crore; laying of Marayoor Valacheri Road (Rs.7.35 crore); construction of Malappuram-Kondotty bypass (Rs.6.1 crore); improvements to Kattungal Chola Pilakkal-Puzhakkadavu Road (Rs 4.5 crore); Kozhikode-Nilambur-Gudallore Road (Rs.3 crore); construction of Kariyattakadavu bridge (Rs.7.9 crore); Maniyaneerikadavu bridge in Malappuram (Rs 4.25 crore) and improvements to Eranhipalam junction (Rs .4 crore).

Estimates for a majority of the works had been put around Rs. 15 lakh, while some others fell within the Rs.14.75 lakh to Rs.14.90 lakh range. An executive engineer has the powers to grant administrative sanction up to Rs 4 lakh and the Chief Engineer Rs.15 lakh. There have been complaints that the estimates had been limited at these amounts for securing clearance without hassles.

Usually, tender proceedings are waived only to meet an exigency. But none of the works taken up during the period was of such nature that it needed demand urgent execution and the department could have adopted the formal proceedings before going ahead with them. Most of the works that began two years ago had not been completed.The Finance Department had sought a detailed report from the PWD.

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