MCD pulled up over poor roads

NEW DELHI, AUG. 30. Concerned over the pathetic condition of city roads and the failure of the MCD to take corrective measures, the Delhi Finance Minister, Mr. Mahinder Singh Saathi, today threatened not to release the next installment of funds to the civic body till he gets a final action plan on the money spent by it department-wise under various heads.

Stating that despite having given more than Rs. 110 crores for roads and bridges to the MCD during 2001-2002, Mr. Saathi said the city roads maintained by it continue to be in bad shape. ``It is virtually a nightmare for motorists to drive on the main roads as the MCD has failed to not only to re-lay new roads and carry out dense carpeting, but even basic repairs have not being carried out. Despite a number of reminders, nothing has moved on this front and complaints of their poor condition continue to pour in virtually every day,'' the Minister said.

Expressing disgust over the MCD work culture and the failure of the BJP-dominated body to function efficiently, Mr. Saathi said he would soon be summoning the MCD Commissioner, the Engineer-in- Chief and carry out a physical survey of the various roads for which money had been allocated, but no works had been carried out. ``It is lamentable that despite a liberal budget, the people of Delhi are made to suffer due to an inefficient set-up. The people have the right to know why money allocated for a certain work has not been spent on it. It is unfortunate that the MCD has preferred to turn a blind eye to condition of the roads,'' he added.

Mr. Saathi wondered if the situation was so bad on the main roads, what would be the condition of roads inside residential colonies, lanes and by-lanes. To top it all, the MCD contractors, instead of implementing the dense carpeting norm, were carrying out patchwork and that also with inferior quality material.

At the same time, the Finance Minister accused the MCD and some other departments of fudging figures to show that they were spending the Plan funds. ``It has become a practice to divide the entire budget into four parts so that whenever the quarterly assessment is carried out, it is clearly shown that the progress was going on fine. But this practice will no longer be tolerated and that is why I have decided to call head-wise meeting of the MCD departments. There will no longer be a collective meeting of the MCD and I will undertake individual review and if the progress is satisfactory, then only the other installment of funds will be released.''

Mr. Saathi said Rs. 800 crores provided to the MCD was not meant to be squandered. They would have to provide an account of each penny spent. Citing an instance of the pathetic situation prevailing in MCD, Mr. Saathi said it had complained that they were not in a position to carry out dense carpeting as they could not put up hot mix plants due to restrictions imposed by court. ``I had asked them to purchase land in Haryana and set up hot mix plants as has been done by private parties and I will provide the funds required. This was suggested five months ago and I am still waiting for a reply from the MCD, indicating they seriousness with which they are dealing with such an important issue,'' he added.