The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has in a latest report indicted the air force for a loss of Rs. 3.74 crore in the runway-extension protect at the Halwara station in Ludhiana district.
On July 18, the report was tabled in Parliament. In March 2010, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) gave administrative approval to the work. The project was due for completion in March 2012. The chief engineer concluded two contracts (in August 2010 and September 2011) for runway re-surfacing (Rs 89.72 crore) and building the huts for underground air traffic controller and runway controller (Rs 1.96 crore).
“While the work was in progress, the re-surfacing failed prematurely in March 2011 because of deviations from the design prescribed by the E-in-C (engineer-in-chief) branch in May 2009,” says the CAG report.
“The defective work was inspected in July 2011 by the branch, which directed the chief engineer to adopt either the revised design of July 2011 or the original plan of May 2009. The garrison engineer (GE), however, recommended in August 2011 for adopting the May 2009 design with additional financial implication of Rs. 1.02 crore,” the Comptroller and Auditor General report adds.
After inspection of the re-surfacing work by the garrison engineer, Halwara, on September 14, 2011, it came out that the average thickness was much less than desired, and so resulted the loss of Rs. 3.74 crore.
However, the inspection report was withdrawn on September 26, 2011, at the behest of the chief engineer, Palam, based on the argument that the inspecting officer’s role could only be advisory.
Thereafter, in March 2012, the chief engineer of Western Command at Chandimandir convened a technical board to investigate all matters related to the quality of work and the thickness of various portions of the runway. In September 2012, Soil Engineering and Material Testing (SEMT) Wing carried out complete checking.
In November, 2012, the chief engineer, Palam, replied to CAG that the contractor had rectified most of the defects at own cost and the reports of the SEMT and the technical board were awaited. The CAG observed: “The reply is not acceptable, as it is silent on our observation relating to poor workmanship and on the recommendation of investigations carried out by the SEMT and the technical board, and the action taken thereof.”
“The required thickness of the re-surfaced runway was deficient and the design prescribed by E-in-C’s branch in May 2009 was not adopted immediately on the commencement of work in December 2010. It was adopted only in August 2011 by the GE, which not only resulted in a loss of Rs. 3.74 crore but also rendered the runway unavailable for flying,” CAG added.