In response to the news item published on 6 July, 2021, in The Arunachal Times under the headline, ‘MMRJMC demands suspension of engineers for encouraging illegalities’, holding PWD officials responsible for substandard construction works on the Mirem-Mikong-Jonai (MMJ) road, I would like to clarify as under:
The PWD officials in no way have encouraged illegal and substandard works as alleged by the MMJRMC. The department is ready for scrutiny by any authority for any irregularities as alleged by them. Since the MMJRMC has also filed an FIR with the SIC (vigilance) SP against PWD officials, I will heartily welcome the investigation by SIC to unearth the truth regarding the embarrassing misunderstanding by members of the MMJRMC.
In the FIR, it is alleged that the department has prepared the bills for substandard works and paid Rs 15 crores to the contractor, which is a blatant lie and there is no iota of truth in it. Since the work has not been completed as per specification and scope of the DPR, no bills have been prepared and not even a penny has been paid to the contractor. All the relevant documents regarding payments have been furnished to Jacob Paron, president of the MMJRMC, through RTI vide No PA/RTI/2021-22 /414–18, dated 01/05/2021, in which the details of payment have been clearly stated as ‘Nil’. In spite of furnishing the details of payment to him, he has made this wild allegation against the department to malign the reputation of the officials involved in the execution of the project. So, allegation of irregularities by the PWD officials is a figment of their imagination and is devoid of any truth and is misleading.
The department has not yet certified that the work executed is of good quality and as per specification of the DPR. So, the department is not liable for the substandard works as alleged by the monitoring committee.
Boulder-sized aggregates (700 mm–800 mm) were never approved and allowed for use in embankment by the department. They were to be removed to the roadsides before laying the materials for widening. The removed boulders were to be collected later on by the contractor and transported to crusher plant for processing.
However, during the inspection of site on 26.06.2021, it was found that at some stretches of the road from Niglok to Ngorlung, some over-sized aggregates have been used in the embankment construction. Therefore, the contractor was asked to rectify the defects by removing the oversized aggregates and correct it as per specification in the stretches where defects were observed, vide this office’s letter No PA/Con-1/NERSDS/2020-21/1573-75, dated 28/06/2021, in which it was categorically stated that no bills will be processed for payment if the discrepancies are not corrected. This is also informed to Jacob Paron. Hence, the department cannot be alleged of any irregularities. There is no intention of compromising with the quality of work in any manner. The contractor has also been asked to set up a laboratory at site immediately for quality control.
All machineries of the contractor are in Mikong side where the work is going on now. It is difficult to shift the machineries back to Niglok side now as the Sille river has swollen. Moreover, now it is difficult and risky to collect the materials for refilling of the defective portions by venturing into the swollen river. This was another reason for shifting of the machineries of the contractor to Mikong area. Hence, the corrective work has been suspended in Niglok-Ngorlung portion as the road will pose a danger to the users with its surface exposed for want of filling materials if excavated now.
In view of this, any further activity on the defective portion has been suspended until they are corrected. This was explained to the MMJRMC also, but they are adamantly demanding and dictating the department and contractor to excavate the defective portions now in this inclement weather, which is highly inadvisable.
As per Clause 305.2.1.4, Page 64 of the MoRTH’s Specifications for Road and Bridge Works 5th Revision 2013, for embankment construction, the size of coarse materials shall not usually exceed 75 mm and 50 mm when placed in sub-grade. However, engineer may permit the use of coarser material also if he is satisfied that the same will not cause any difficulty in its placement as a filler material and compaction required as per specification. The maximum size however, shall not be more than 2/3rd of the compacted layer thickness.
The contractor is using a vibratory roller at site which can compact a layer of thickness upto 250 mm. Therefore, the maximum size of aggregate permissible at site for construction of embankment is 2/3×250 mm = 166.67 mm, say 7 inches.
Soils seldom exist in nature separately as sand, gravel or any other single component but are usually found as a mixture with varying proportions of particles of different sizes and are classified as a mixture of sand, clay, silt gravels, cobbles and boulders, based on their sizes. Visual observations are employed in place of precise laboratory tests to define the basic soil properties.
Materials used for embankment construction at site have been identified as granular, well-graded gravel to gravel with appreciable amount of fines, ie, soil type GW-GM as per Indian Standard IS 1498 1970 Classification and Identification of Soils for General Engineering Purposes.
Granular gravel type soil has superior engineering properties for embankment construction as well as sub-grade material for road construction. A well-graded soil has a wide range in grain sizes and substantial amount of all intermediate particle sizes. Voids created by larger sized aggregate are filled by intermediate and smaller sized aggregates during compaction, which increases the stability of embankment and sub-grade. Finer particles of the soil also bind the coarser aggregates together, giving good strength.
Most of the monitoring committee members are non-technical persons who neither try nor have the ability to comprehend the engineering aspects of the work despite being explained to them many times. The department had, therefore, asked them to come with their engineers to explain the project, but they never turned up, rather continue to dictate terms. Some members of the committee were participants in the tender who had failed to secure the work. Their motive is only to cause hindrance to the work for ulterior motives.
The department is not shielding anybody. If the MMJRMC wants to meet the contractor, they should arrange themselves on their own for a meeting. The department has nothing to do with this. The work has been awarded to the firm on EPC mode. Its project engineers are there at site to liaise for technical matters with the department.
The self-styled MMJRMC has been causing hindrance to the project execution since the beginning. They are misleading and misguiding the public also through unfounded allegations on social media. When the contractor started the jungle clearing and widening work in March 2021, the committee tried to stop the work and also threatened to resort to a bandh call. So, on 11 March, 2021, a meeting with the committee was held at the RWD guesthouse, Ruksin, and the aspect of the project was explained to them. It is clarified that jungle clearance and widening works do not require complex engineering solutions, and so the contractor was asked to start the work at once in March to achieve a good progress in time without the working DPR which was under process then. However, the committee threatened to file a PIL if the contractor proceeds with execution of the project without DPR then. Therefore, in the interest of the project, the preliminary work of jungle clearing and widening work was stopped heeding to the demand of the committee.
Surprisingly, on 27 March 2021, the same committee gave a press release accusing the department of stopping the work suddenly without any valid reason. The work was however, resumed later on after submission of DPR by the contractor and its subsequent approval by the competent authority.
I would like to reassure the people of 37th Pasighat West assembly constituency that the department will not compromise with the quality of work under any circumstances and we are committed to give a good road to the people of the project command area. So, all are requested not to get carried away by the misleading propaganda being spread by some individuals with vested interests.
Pasighat PW Division