The Punjab government’s shift in its earlier stance to repair rural roads has left many ruling party MLAs of Doaba region high and dry. These legislators are now finding it difficult to face the public whom they had promised the repair of these roads.
Towards the end of 2012, the Punjab government, after raising a loan of Rs 1,600 crore through the Punjab Mandi Board, had decided to repair roads in rural areas a couple of months before the zila parishad (ZP) and block samiti polls that concluded in May 2013.
According to the documents available with HT, the government even conveyed to the public works department (PWD) and the MLAs to submit estimates for the construction of roads.
After the MLAs submitted the requirements, according to a ruling MLA from Hoshiarpur district, just ahead of the ZP polls, the government conveyed to the legislators that it was in principle set to repair the rural roads that came up before December 2006.
“During the polls, we even promised to repair certain roads showing the documents to the public that the PWD in principle has given approval for the construction of roads carrying thorough surveys, preparing estimates and maps,” said Adampur SAD MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Pawan Tinu.
An executive engineer of the PWD said that in many estimates, even the tenders were sent for approval. But when the tendering process was midway, in August 2013, the state body of contractors demanded an increase in the minimum rate of construction because of steep increase in prices of sand and gravel, and the matter got pending for three months. In November 2013, the government decided to increase the minimum rate by 10%.
In November 2013, the government in order to match the increased prices changed its stance and instead of roads built before 2006, it said it would repair the roads built before 2005. The introduction of this new bar came as a shock to many MLAs in whose areas most of the roads were built between 2005 and 2006.
In Adampur, where earlier 147 km of roads were sanctioned, tenders for only 7 km were called after the new bar was introduced. Similarly, in Kartarpur segment, of 116 km roads sanctioned earlier, only 31 km have been issued tenders for repair.
“In my area, out of 175 km road sanctioned earlier, only around 75 km have been earmarked for repair. We have made repeated requests to the chief minister and the deputy CM to sanction more money for our areas so that the roads can be repaired,” said Gurpartap Wadala, SAD MLA from Nakodar.
The situation has become so embarrassing for the MLAs that they are finding it difficult to face people to whom they had made promises.
“It’s not the case of my segment only. Most of the MLAs are facing a piquant situation in facing the public. We have requested the CM to intervene soon,” said Tinu. Even from those roads that got the sanctions, more than 30% are still not completed.
District with 2006 bar with 2005 bar
Jalandhar 326 km 118 km
Kapurthala 116 km 31 km
Ludhiana 445 km 164 km
Hoshiarpur 575 km 427 km