Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Time to halt corruption in PWD


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Apropos the letter ‘GS Road repair-total rubbish’ (ST Nov 4, 2011) I congratulate the writer for pointing to the most ‘rubbish’ work happening in our state. It’s a shame that this third class construction work is executed in one of the most important highways in Meghalaya. This is not repair work; it is ‘Daylight Robbery’ by the PWD Engineers and the contractor. Engineers themselves testify that the present work is sub-standard; there is very less bitumen in the mix and they are using black chips which are soft, acidic and not fit even for drain construction. All this so they can pocket maximum profit from the bitumen and chips and also by manipulating the thickness. I wonder why there are no supervisors. Where are the SDOs, engineers et al? Perhaps they don’t want to miss their share or are afraid of getting transferred if they ever visit the site.

It is the duty of the PWD engineers to decide the bitumen mix according to guidelines so that it lasts a minimum of 5-8 years no matter what the climatic conditions are or how many thousands of heavily loaded trucks pass everyday. The GS Road was repaired not long ago but in two years it looks like a dirt road. Who is to blame? Has any engineer or contractor been booked for wasting and looting crores of public money? Is there any anti-corruption agency watching over this? Since this is a central scheme should the CBI remain a silent spectator?

Earlier, PWD engineers were respected officers in the state. Those days we had some of the best roads in the region. Students who opted for Civil Engineering are mostly toppers and very talented. But things have now changed. Engineers don’t behave like officers but like pimps and middle men in cahoots with the business lobby to loot the exchequer. I was told that to get a post of SDO of a site you have to pay Rs 3 to 5 lakhs; an Executive Engineers pays a minimum of Rs 10 lakhs to the concerned Minister. Most engineers say they have no one to blame but themselves for creating a mess in PWD. Interestingly ours is the only state where transfers and postings for even a junior post of JE, SDO etc has to get the approval of the Minister concerned.

Some had hoped that the present Secretary, PWD would straighten the mess but he looks lost and stressed out and he will retire as another loser. In the Department sincerity and hard work does not matter. If you can bribe politicians you get a plum posting. It’s also true that an inexperienced and junior SDO is posted here just because he is the son in law of an MLA.

A certain  PWD contractor who is today the richest man in Meghalaya owning a Mercedes Benz, a BMW, a fleet of trucks and thousand of crores was a mere truck driver 15 years ago. Did any agency question how acquired so much wealth in a such a short time? Everyone knows how he bribes his way to get the contract works of his choice. He rightly calls the PWD engineers his ‘Business Partners.’ In the last fifteen years as a contractor he has made 90% profit from all the works he had executed, excluding his coal business. Sadly this contractor is the one who is executing the current repair works on GS Road with an assured net profit of 90% instead of 10% as laid down in the rule book. Another point to be noted is that Assam now has the best roads ever since the CM realised that no MLA who is a contractor should be made a minister or Parliamentary Secretary of the PWD Department as they are experts at siphoning off 90% of the budget for themselves and their families.

When A Raja, Kalmadi, and others can go to jail, what stops us from sending all these crooks to jail? Or are they out because we have a reservation policy as they are locals or Scheduled Tribes? The present CM being a doctor and also a former PWD minister is the right person to cure this disease in the Department. There’s no point talking development or tourism if the road infrastructure is in shambles.

Yours etc.,

 Kermon Passah



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