The Comptroller and Auditor General has raised serious questions about use of pre-fabricated steel frames imported from China for construction of the 'Signature' bridge across the Yamuna in East Delhi which is modelled on the famed London Bridge.
In a draft report, the CAG has objected to procurement of steel frames from China in violation of contractual norms and said the Delhi Government agency implementing the project does not have any mechanism to check quality of material and fabrication work being done in China.
The CAG has also slammed Delhi Government for escalation of the cost of the project by Rs. 672 crore against the initial estimate.
The government in March 2006 had estimated a total cost of Rs. 459 crore for construction of the bridge which went up to Rs. 1,131 crore when the project was finalised in February 2010.
The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) is executing the Rs. 1,131-crore project which is expected to be completed by middle of 2014.
On procurement of materials from China, the auditor said as per the contractual agreement, fabrication and assembling of steel frames and pylons were to be carried out in three "selected" fabrication workshops or in similar steel assembling factories with approval from the engineer-in-charge of the project but the contractor procured them from the neighbouring country violating the norms.
Designed as a replica of the famous London bridge, the 575-metre long and 175-metre-high bridge will have bow-shaped pylon with cables.
To be suspended on cables, the bridge will have two approaches - the Eastern Approach and the Western Approach.
It will link NH-1 on the western bank of Yamuna with Wazirabad on eastern bank of the river.
"It is the primary responsibility of the DTTDC to ensure quality of the material being used in the bridge. This aspect was compromised as DTTDC had no mechanism of its own to ensure quality of material and work being done in China," the draft report said.
In its reply, the DTTDC said the CAG "inferred" it "wrongly" that only Indian workshops were to be engaged for fabrication of steel component and informed the auditor that contractor had hired a firm to ascertain quality of material imported from China.
However, the CAG rejected DTTDC's explanation and said assessment of quality of the material by a firm appointed by the contractor cannot be taken seriously.
"As quality control firm was appointed by the contractor itself, it establishes an employer and employee relationship between the two and as such fare reporting by the firm could not be ensured.
"The reply was silent on purchase of steel from China," the CAG said.
On cost escalation, the CAG said "The DTTDC revised the estimates six times between May 2005 and October 2009 and took almost six years to award the work," it said, refusing to accept DTTDC's argument that cost escalation was predominantly due to increase in price of the material.
The contract was awarded to Gammon-Constutora-Tensacciai in 2010.