Development works cost hiked 10-fold from initial quotations, again under Rakhra tenure | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Development works cost hiked 10-fold from initial quotations, again under Rakhra tenure

punjab Updated: Nov 04, 2014 10:32 IST
Vishal Rambani

Not only the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) but also the Panchyati Raj office here is full of scams in which officials favour select contractors.

The development works by the PRI (Panchayati Raj Institutions) department here have overshot their planned cost by about 10-fold, while the rules permit only 10% hike in any contract.

The modus operendi is to initiate work by calling quotations and scaling up the cost, later, to any level. The officials are supposed to invite tender for any work that costs more than Rs1 lakh and quotations for anything costing less. Officials such as Tejinder Singh Multani, who has dual charge of subdivisional officer (SDO) and executive enginner here, have exploited this lacuna.

Most of the controversial work has been either approved by cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra or done in his Samana constituency.Multani put the estimated cost of repairing the Mohindra College floor at Rs98,000 while inviting quotations but once the work was allotted, enhanced it to Rs11.90 lakh, which was a 10-fold increase.

This is not an isolated case. For the repair of a hostel, the initial cost of Rs4.5 lakh was enhanced to `31.80 lakh, again almost 10-fold hike.

The SDO needs approval from the executive engineer for the enhancement, and Mulanti exploited his dual charge to help his favourite contractors. As SDO, he would write to the executive engineer for sanction, and in the evening, put on the other hat to approve it.

No department can approve more than 10% enhancement in the estimated cost finalised before the floating of quotation or tender; but here, the rules were bent to the gain of contractors, who got all the work on the basis of quotations, without going through the fair competition route of tenders.

The cost was jacked up from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 16 lakh for the repair of the RCC (reinforced concrete cement) pipe at Rurki village; from Rs19 lakh to Rs89 lakh for building Panchayat Samiti office at Patiala; and even in the cremation ground project, money was embezzled.

“The panchayat office has been completed for Rs 1 crore against the initial cost of Rs19 lakh, all because big companies didn’t participate in bidding. If a realistic initial price was set, the department would have got not only big contractors but also bigger concession,” said a contractor, requesting anonymity.

In his defence, SDO Multani has said the scope of the work was limited initially, but as the works commenced on the sites, it expanded. He failed to justify why most of the work in his subdivision alone was enhanced and why the department had not invited tenders.

Multani overdrew Rs 1 crore from the government account by violating the MNREGS rules. The money is unspent for the past eight months, while the labourers engaged in the district are protesting for wages.That scam also happened in the tenure of Surjit Singh Rakhra as rural development minister in the state.

Patiala, Panchayati Raj Institutions, MNREGS, news, hindustantimes

Development works cost hiked 10-fold from initial quotations, again under Rakhra tenure

Vishal Rambani
rambani@hindustantimes.com

Patiala: Not only the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) but also the Panchyati Raj office here is full of scams in which officials favour select contractors.

The development works by the PRI (Panchayati Raj Institutions) department here have overshot their planned cost by about 10-fold, while the rules permit only 10% hike in any contract.

The modus operendi is to initiate work by calling quotations and scaling up the cost, later, to any level. The officials are supposed to invite tender for any work that costs more than Rs1 lakh and quotations for anything costing less. Officials such as Tejinder Singh Multani, who has dual charge of subdivisional officer (SDO) and executive enginner here, have exploited this lacuna.

Most of the controversial work has been either approved by cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra or done in his Samana constituency.Multani put the estimated cost of repairing the Mohindra College floor at Rs98,000 while inviting quotations but once the work was allotted, enhanced it to Rs11.90 lakh, which was a 10-fold increase.

This is not an isolated case. For the repair of a hostel, the initial cost of Rs4.5 lakh was enhanced to `31.80 lakh, again almost 10-fold hike.

The SDO needs approval from the executive engineer for the enhancement, and Mulanti exploited his dual charge to help his favourite contractors. As SDO, he would write to the executive engineer for sanction, and in the evening, put on the other hat to approve it.

No department can approve more than 10% enhancement in the estimated cost finalised before the floating of quotation or tender; but here, the rules were bent to the gain of contractors, who got all the work on the basis of quotations, without going through the fair competition route of tenders.

The cost was jacked up from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 16 lakh for the repair of the RCC (reinforced concrete cement) pipe at Rurki village; from Rs19 lakh to Rs89 lakh for building Panchayat Samiti office at Patiala; and even in the cremation ground project, money was embezzled.

“The panchayat office has been completed for Rs 1 crore against the initial cost of Rs19 lakh, all because big companies didn’t participate in bidding. If a realistic initial price was set, the department would have got not only big contractors but also bigger concession,” said a contractor, requesting anonymity.

In his defence, SDO Multani has said the scope of the work was limited initially, but as the works commenced on the sites, it expanded. He failed to justify why most of the work in his subdivision alone was enhanced and why the department had not invited tenders.

Multani overdrew Rs 1 crore from the government account by violating the MNREGS rules. The money is unspent for the past eight months, while the labourers engaged in the district are protesting for wages.That scam also happened in the tenure of Surjit Singh Rakhra as rural development minister in the state.