Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has expressed dismay over the inadequate response to questions raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which resulted in controversy over the cost of construction of Dwarka Expressway in Delhi.
According to ministry sources, Mr Gadkari has conveyed his displeasure with the lopsided attitude adopted by certain officials responsible for responding to queries raised by the CAG with regard to the cost of construction of the Dwarka Expressway at a high-level review meeting .
The source said that the minister also directed to fix the responsibility of this lapse on the part of senior concerned officials.
Earlier in the month, a political row erupted on the CAG report which flagged the high cost of construction of the Dwarka Expressway.
Ministry sources had earlier said that in the absence of an adequate response from the ministry and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), the CAG had adopted an incorrect methodology for computing the cost of Dwarka Expressway.
They also explained that the CAG has simply divided the total cost of construction of Rs 91,000 crore (expenditure) under National Corridor Efficiency Programme with the project’s entire length of 5,000 kilometres under development.
They had said the CAG has itself noted that the cost of construction of Rs 18.2 per kilometre does not include the cost norms for flyovers, ring roads, etc.
They were of the view that the expressway in question has elevated roads, underpasses, tunnels and other components which were not part of the project.
The cost of Rs 91,000 crore for 5,000 km under Bharatmala Phase-I project was finalised by the ministry on August 10, 2016, for the year 2016-17 to the extent possible.
The ministry sources had claimed that the government saved over 12 per cent in construction cost against estimates in awarding contracts for the expressway.
They pointed out that the CAG findings that the cost was exorbitant are misplaced as the auditor did not factor in the actual cost.
According to reports, the CAG had found that the NHAI decision to go for an elevated carriageway on the Haryana portion of the Dwarka Expressway pushed up the construction cost to Rs 251 crore per kilometre from Rs 18.2 crore per km estimated earlier.
The audit report on the implementation of Phase-I of the ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ highway projects, triggered a political row with the opposition parties alleging corruption in the process of awarding the project.
The ministry sources had explained that all four packages of Dwarka Expressway were put for tender at an average civil cost of Rs 206.39 crore per kilometre but the contracts were finally awarded at a lower rate of Rs 181.94 crore per km.
The average civil construction cost of the four packages of the expressway was 12 per cent lower than the estimates, they had said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)