The Punjab government on Wednesday said it had started preparations to initiate a techno-social audit of all infrastructure projects in the state to bring more transparency in the implementation of such projects.
According to a government spokesperson, during a brain-storming session held under the chairmanship of chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal, it was felt that a techno-social audit should be conducted for various infrastructure projects being implemented by various departments, such as the public works department (PWD), Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB), irrigation, local government, housing and urban development, Mandi Board etc.
Top engineering institutes of the state are likely to be associated for the purpose. At least six engineering colleges, including Punjab Engineering College (PEC) University of Technology and Thapar University, have already given their consent to carry out the techno-social audit of various ongoing and future infrastructure projects of the state.
"A dedicated fund of 0.5% of the total project cost will be earmarked to finance these technical institutes for conducting the social audit and for capacity building," the spokesperson said.
At the meeting, it was also suggested that administrative secretaries involved in the implementation of infrastructure projects should randomly select 10% of the total projects being implemented by them. It was also decided that for projects of more than Rs. 50 crore, expert services of well-established public sector undertakings of the union government, such as the Engineers India Limited (EIL), would be hired as project management consultants.
The chief secretary has also issued directions to all departments concerned to upload entire information regarding the infrastructure projects on the official website, clearly mentioning the scope of the projects, estimates, status, timeline etc. He also directed the departments to put signboards at the sites of the projects, indicating details of the project, contractor, timeline and the supervisory officer concerned, along with the name and phone number of the person to whom any complaint needs to be addressed by the public.
The chief secretary directed to upgrade quality manuals of the departments to ensure effective evaluation of the infrastructure projects of the state. He suggested that the departments take technical advice from top-level experts of the given field.
While explaining the vision of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal in this regard to the officers, the CS emphasised to all officers that the techno-social audit would help to gauge the usefulness of the projects to the end users, rectify deficiencies in the implementation process and help in redesigning the objectives, focus and mode of implementation, if necessary.
He said the techno-social audit had become one of the most popular accountability tools used across the globe for better formulation, implementation and evaluation of various projects and schemes from a social perspective.