Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit may talk of approaching the Centre for additional funds for Commonwealth Games 2010 related projects, but the state government is also questioning the exorbitant cost of some of these.
Following queries by the Delhi finance department, Dikshit gave her nod to an experts’ panel that would not just assess cost of projects, but also curb wasteful expenditure on them.
Earlier in the day, Dikshit had told mediapersons that funds for Games projects were falling short.
"We have sought additional funds as cost of several projects have escalated. We are hopeful of getting funds as we were told that there will be no shortage of money for any project related to the event," she said.
The finance department had said the cost of some Public Works Department (PWD) projects were “too expensive and somebody needs to verify the cost”.
The question came up once again during the Expenditure Finance Committee’s meeting held on Monday where six projects proposed by the PWD were approved at a cost of Rs 109 crore.
“PWD had been sending many revised estimates for projects. We had asked who would verify new estimates? The CM said a two-member committee be set up to verify these estimates. She said these two could also be consulted for verifying the cost of older projects,” said a government source, who refused to be named.
Apparently, the Salimgarh Fort Peripheral Road and the Barapullah Nullah project pegged at over Rs 650 crore and Rs 550 crore, respectively, had come under the scanner.
So had the Signature Bridge project at Wazirabad Barrage. The project cost for Signature Bridge has been revised twice – apparently because of price escalation from Rs 459 crore to Rs 993 crore and Rs 1,196 crore at present.
“There have been many discussions on whether these projects are actually this expensive. We have never made such lengthy cost evaluations,” the official said.
Officials also felt that the price increase was not inflation related. “Inflation has not been so high in the last one year. But the new project proposals being forwarded to us are in themselves very expensive,” said the official.
Northeast Delhi MP Jai Prakash Aggarwal had also said that four simple bridges would be more useful for residents and cheaper than exorbitantly priced Signature Bridge project.
“I have written to the Prime Minister, CM and Jaipal Reddy (Union Urban Development Minister), stating that when a six-lane bridge can be made in Rs 100 crore and in under a year, then what is the need for the Rs 1,500 crore Signature Bridge that will take eight years. They can use the rest of the funds for development in the Northeast constituency,” said Aggarwal.