Despite several instances that have proven that a strong nexus exists between government officials and contractors leading to corruption in major government contracts, the public works department (PWD) has made it easier for former engineers to bag public projects, post retirement.
In an order issued this month, the department has relaxed norms to enable former engineers registered as contractors to get contracts in the first year of their new stint. The order states that such contractors need not submit the mandatory certificate of experience required for bagging any public project or even own requisite machinery needed to construct the project in the first year.
The state PWD is responsible for carrying out all major public road works and buildings projects. For this year, its budget only on roads is around Rs3,123 crore and it is considered as one of the most lucrative departments.
The government allows former engineers (retired or resigned) to get direct enlistment as public works contractors but two years cooling off period after quitting service. However, executive engineers can seek concession from the government and get enlisted as contractors immediately after service.
“Such a relaxation is aimed at easy shift for some or the other senior engineer. It leads to a nexus as former engineers exploit their contacts within a department for bagging contracts. Any firm can also enlist such an engineer as a partner to use his/her contacts and insider knowledge of the department,’’ admitted a senior bureaucrat, who did not wish to be named.
While executive engineers, post retirement, get enlisted as category-4 contractors, those below this post get enlisted as category-5 contractors. “With the history of so many scams in the government, the rules should have been tightened and not relaxed for engineers turning into contractors,” said former IPS officer and lawyer YP Singh.