NEW DELHI: In a stinging remark, a parliamentary panel has said some British-era rail bridges are in a better condition than the ones built after Independence and blamed the nexus between officials and contractors for the poor quality of construction.
The Public Accounts Committee headed by Congress‘ Mallikarjun Kharge, who was railway minister during the UPA-II regime, said delay in sanctioning bridgework is putting lives of passengers at risk. “The committee noted that while certain railway bridges constructed during the British rule are in good condition, railway bridges constructed or reconstructed after Independence are of inferior quality and need frequent repair,” said the report ‘Maintenance of Bridges in Indian Railway’ tabled in Parliament.
It added, “Nexus between railway officials and few contractors affect the quality and life of its construction.”
The panel suggested that tender for construction or rehabilitation of bridges be done through e-tendering so as to make the system transparent and attract large number of reputed and competent construction companies in the tendering process.
It also said companies or contractors who fail to ensure quality and long life of bridges be debarred from participating in future tenders and penalised for it.
The committee expressed shock that out of the 3,979 bridges sanctioned by the Railway Board, work on 710 bridges remains to be completed as on March 2015.
According to a Railway Board letter in October 2017, the Central Railways has 61 bridges that need repair, East Central Railways has 63, South Central Railways has 41 and Western Railways has 42 bridges requiring rebuilding.
The committee noted that while paucity of funds was cited as a reason for shortfall in achievement of targets for bridgeworks, the budget grant provided was not utilised to the tune of nearly Rs 61 crore per annum.
“The committee has desired that a strategic management system be developed for fast tracking sanction of rehabilitation or reconstruction of bridges within a time frame based on priority for safety,” the report stated. Source : timesofindia