Corruption cases, New Himachal govt. on its toes

PALAMPUR: Himachal Pradesh government had decided to order high level probe into the controversial allotment of tenders and supply orders awarded by state Public Works ( PWD) and Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Departments during previous congress regime resulting in huge loss to the state exchequer.

Official sources told this reporter here today that Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had already handed over the investigation of rupees 75 crores Bamsan drinking water supply scheme falling in his home constituency to state Vigilance Bureau. Official of the Bureau had already reached Hamirpur to seize the records of IPH department. The initial cost of this scheme was rupees 35 crore only.

Likewise there are many other such tenders allotted during congress regime, where contractors had managed to secure it at very high rates. It is learnt that state government would soon ask the vigilance Bureau to take over the investigation of these scams also.

Mr. Prem Kumar Dhumal, as leader of opposition had raised these issues in state assembly time and again but former Chief Minister Vir Bhadara Singh was not ready to listen even a word against his officers including the senior Engineers of PWD and IPH, who were said to be instrumental in the allotment of such tenders. It may be recalled that Mr. Dumal had sacked the Engineer in Chief of PWD on very first day of taking over as Chief Minister of the state because of his proximity with some influential contractors.

Official sources said that there was lot of bungling in the allotment of tenders under PMGSY schemes. Because in PMGSY works there was no shortage of funds as these project are centrally sponsored and the government receives funds in advance. In many divisions of PWD in the state these works were awarded on abnormally high rates keeping a side all rules and regulations. Even officers of the department played significant role in the pooling of tenders and directly helping the contractors. Later the department badly failed to maintain the quality of construction works executed under such schemes.

In many districts the roads constructed under PMGSY had developed big potholes and culverts developed cracks in one year. Though under agreement signed with the PWD the contractors were bound to maintain such roads for five years, but the PWD officials failed to follow such conditions of the agreements and most of the roads constructed under this scheme are in bad shape today. Even the situation in the home district of Chief Minister is no better. He had already received dozens of complaints from the public in these regards.

It may be recalled that Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had categorically stated immediately taking over the reins of the state that BJP government would bring transparency in the functioning of PWD and IPH departments two major agencies for development in the state.

This step of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had received lot appreciation in the state as it would help in checking the rampant corruption in the PWD and IPH. If government succeeded in roping the top PWD and IPH officials in the state, definitely there would be improvement in the quality of construction of roads and building in coming days.

A senior journalist from Palampur.

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