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Abohar road built with ‘rejected’ material, yet no action against officials who okayed it

The project, part of a national highway, is being carried out at Rs 25 crore; it started in August last year and the contractor is a man named Gurbachan Singh, who has faced no action so far, nor has the Xen who gave the quality nod earlier.

punjab Updated: May 20, 2018 10:32 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Abohar road,road built with ‘rejected’ material,no action
It was after Jakhar’s complaint again that the new PWD minister, Vijay Inder Singla (who got the post after a cabinet reshuffle) went to inspect the road on May 14, ordered sampling, and sent the sealed samples to a department lab where they failed.(HT File )

Suspension of an executive engineer (Xen) of the public works department (PWD) over alleged material issues in the construction of a 5-km bypass road in Abohar has raised questions over the quality control wing of the department, whose team led by another Xen had certified this road thrice in the past few months.

The project, part of a national highway, is being carried out at Rs 25 crore; it started in August last year and the contractor is a man named Gurbachan Singh, who has faced no action so far, nor has the Xen who gave the quality nod earlier. State Congress president and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar, who is a three-time former MLA from Abohar which is his home segment, has demanded a high-level probe.

HT has accessed documents as per which the quality wing conducted sampling of the construction work and certified the road once in September 2017 and then in January and April this year.And this sampling was not a routine affair. The then PWD minister Razia Sultana had ordered a special sampling after Jakhar complained.A team led by Xen Jaswinder Singh, accompanied by two sub-divisional engineers (SDEs), carried it out.

It was after Jakhar’s complaint again that the new PWD minister, Vijay Inder Singla (who got the post after a cabinet reshuffle) went to inspect the road on May 14, ordered sampling, and sent the sealed samples to a department lab where they failed.Following this, Xen in charge of the project, Kamal Jeet Singh Brar, was suspended; a show-cause notice was sent to a superintending engineer (SE), Malwinder Singh Chatha; and departmental chargesheets were issued to a sub-divisional engineer and a junior engineer (JE).

Singla took along a different quality control team, headed Xen Manmeet Singh, and also found that the tiles on the central divider were laid without any binding material.Testing of two samples revealed that sub-standard material used in the project fell in the “rejected” category as per norms.Yet, no action has been initiated against the officer who certified it thrice, nor has the contractor been named.

Since the lab found a “rejected” material in the samples, PWD rules provide for blacklisting of the contractor for two years and recovery of the entire project cost. Xen Jaswinder, who certified the road, when contacted, disconnected the call after listening to the question about his role.

Jakhar said, “It’s astonishing that irregularities were spotted by the minister with his naked eye but the officials who supervised this road could not question the sub-standard material used in the road.”

He added, “It’s not about Abohar alone. What happened in Ludhiana, where a flyover got damaged, is before everyone. Roads are being made in this fashion now! Role of all officials involved in the project should be probed, and the contractor should be punished severely to set an example.”

The minister, when contacted, said a detailed investigation is on and, thereafter, necessary action would be initiated against the contractor. “None of the defaulters will be spared,” he said.

Money for the project comes from the Centre, and the state PWD is the implementing agency.

First Published: May 20, 2018 10:32 IST