RWD under scanner over PMGSY fund misappropriation

[ Karyir Riba ]

ANINI, 8 Jul: The rural works department (RWD) is under the scanner with allegations regarding misuse, misappropriation and embezzlement of funds and compromising the quality of work by deviating from the DPRs for various PMGSY projects in Dibang Valley district.

Ano Umpe, a social activist from the district and the district director of the Human Rights International Federation, has alleged that work on PMGSY projects in the district have not been executed as per the PMGSY guidelines and DPRs.

“I am deeply pained by the misuse of funds allocated for these developmental projects. Despite the significant financial allocations, the quality of work is subpar and the roads constructed deteriorate rapidly. The projects starkly contrast with the PMGSY guidelines and the DPRs. The discrepancies indicate significant deviations from the letter of award (LoA), quality compromises, and lack of transparency in the tendering process. There is clear evidence of corruption with projects incomplete yet all funds utilised or withdrawn.

“The DPRs contain falsified information, contradictory to the actual work performed,” said Umpe.

Umpe alleged, “Apart from various deviations, the LoA has not been followed, compromising the quality of the work. No tender is floated to invite the best contractors, but it is allotted on the basis of whims and fancies of the department, resulting in overlapping on the existing road and misappropriation of public money. Even the little amount of work done at the construction sites is not in accordance with the DPR.

“SQM and NQM have visited to inspect on the ground but there seems to be connivance with the inspection team, the department and the construction agencies, as the ground reality is contradictory and objectionable,” he added.

 “The PMGSY scheme implementation has become a source of income and a means of corruption for the politicians in connivance with contractors and officials,” Umpe added.

He further said, “From the information obtained through RTI, it is found that there is a vast contrast/inconsistency between the DPR and the actual work done at the site of construction.”

In a complaint letter addressed to the PMO’s joint secretary in New Delhi, the state’s chief secretary, the PMGSY chief engineer in Itanagar, the PMGSY eastern zone superintendent engineer, and the Dibang Valley deputy commissioner, Umpe listed all the projects under PMGSY-I (Phase 4), PMGSY-I (Phase 12), and PMGSY-II (Batch 1), which fall under his allegations.

He has also mentioned in detail the faults in these projects in the context of the work done in widening, CC pavement, pucca drain, formation cutting, cross drainage structure, and earth-work for road formation.

In his letter, he said: “Given the facts as stated above, I request your good office to initiate necessary action against the erring parties and ensure that the project is completed as per the DPR, so that the public of the area should not suffer because of the misdeeds of the officers. Moreover, it is requested to constitute a high-level inquiry committee to ascertain the quality the work, issues on deviation of DPR, financial transactions, bills, whether tenders were floated for sanctioning the work, and whether PMGSY guidelines were followed in toto.

“The committee should also seek the present status from the JE, AE and EE of the department for the ongoing construction work. Any upcoming PMGSY projects should strictly adhere to guidelines to avoid such complaints in the future. It is humbly prayed that this matter be taken up on high priority by your office, putting on hold the pending bills and non-issuance/release of LOC until the matter is resolved,” the letter read.

Umpe added: “If the grievances are not addressed, I shall have no other efficacious remedy but to complain before the SIC and initiate a PIL against the erring officials, department and agencies for the end of justice.”

When asked about the allegations, the Anini RWD AE said, “It is easy for anyone to make allegations on anyone without knowing the actual facts of the matter. Some of the said projects are dated back to many years from now, while work on some are ongoing, and some have not yet been started.

“As on-field officers, we acknowledge the hardships the contractors/executing agencies have to go through in completing these projects, especially because of the difficult terrains and the weather conditions. We have seen roads that have just been built being washed away because of the unpredictable rains. PMGSY schemes demand high quality work in very low funds, and we strive to do the best under the scheme, following all guidelines and DPRs.

“We acknowledge the financial hardships and losses the contractors/executing agencies have to face. We feel utterly demoralised when such allegations are made. We welcome any villager or village-level committees, student bodies or public forums/organisations to approach us in case of any such doubts regarding the work being conducted. We can always go for a joint site inspection and clear any doubts/rectify any shortfalls, which will be beneficial for all parties involved.

“But such acts like taking pictures of a washed out road and making allegations are really uncalled for. Chance should be given to the department to speak for itself before making allegations/complaints,” the AE said.