The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has, in its fresh report tabled in Parliament on February 18, indicted Chief Engineer, Pathankot Zone, army, for acquiring land for ammunition dump in Kathua without approach road which resulted in a loss of `14.28 crore to the exchequer.
In November 2007, army acquired land measuring 257.887 acre at a cost of `9.04 crore for the construction of ammunition dump at Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. However, land for approach road was not marked and acquired. The acquired land was accessible from national highway-1A through an existing 7 km-long approach road with black top surface up to 5.5 km. The remaining 1.5 km was a kuccha track on private land.
In September 2008, the Board of Officers comprising representatives of Chief Engineer (CE) Pathankot Zone, recommended the construction of boundary pillars, perimeter fencing and internal roads for security and demarcation of the acquired land.
However, the representative of the CE did not bring out non-availability of proper approach road to the work site in the Engineer Appreciation, which formed a part of the proceedings of the Board of Officers.
Quarter Master General, Integrated Headquarter of Ministry of Defence (Army), in February 2009, sanctioned the above work at an estimated cost of `7.08 crore. CE in July 2009, concluded the contract for `5.68 crore and the execution of work commenced in August 2009. In June 2010, when the progress of work was 40 per cent, the local population of the village opposed the movement of contractor's vehicles and machinery through their land.
Due to the protests, the contractor could not progress with the work with effect from December 2010. At that time the expenditure booked was `3 crore.
Certain items of work such as construction of drainage system, causeways, culverts/hume pipe culverts included in the scope could also not be carried out which caused excessive damage to the roads and the retaining walls due to heavy rainfall in July/August 2011.
The assessed damage was valued at `37 lakh by a technical board of officers, held in November 2011, which also recommended repairs to the damage and remedial measures to prevent further damage at an additional cost of `1.87 crore. In the meantime, due to the protest of the local population of the village, the contractor, in October 2010, proposed to foreclose the contract. The matter went into arbitration and award of that came in favour of contractor. He left the project without any liability.
Thus, due to poor planning by the CE, the work on a proposed ammunition dump had to be suspended, apart from damages caused of `37 lakh to government property.
An additional burden of `1.87 crore on the exchequer, was also necessitated for preventive works. Besides, the army was deprived of the operational necessity for acquisition of the dump despite incurring an expenditure of `9.04 crore on acquisition of land and `3 crore towards incomplete work thereon.