The Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee has pointed out what it argues are contradictions in claims of BJP governments, both in the Centre and the State, on the public statements made by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari against Chief Minister of Manipur. It also said it finds the CM’s deadline on completing Barak & Irang as physically, financially and logistically impractical.
A release by the MPCC pointed out that as per a PIB Press Release, dated 12th July, 2021, the following points were made:
- Union Minister of Road, Transport & Highways, inaugurated & laid foundation stone of 16 National Highways Projects worth Rs. 4,184 cr. for a total length of 298 km. of roads.
- Projects worth Rs. 5000 cr. have been sanctioned for the state.
- Expansion of Highways in the state will be recommended under the Bharatmala Phase – II.
- Prime Minister is giving highest priority to the North East.
The release however pointed out that it ironic that the inauguration of Makru bridge by the Union Minister in the state is not mentioned in the Govt. of India’s PIB Press Release.
The release further pointed out that the Union Minister’s public statements against the Chief Minister on the question of slow speed in progress of work, maintenance of quality standards, desire for honesty in work and remarks on leadership, have been consistently raised by the Congress for the betterment of the state’s infrastructural developments in terms of roads and highways, was missing from the statement.
It said the Congress party takes serious note of the Union Minister’s statements on the Chief Minister.
It however said that before exposing the self-contradictions of the Chief Minister on Highway bridges such as Barak & Irang bridges, what needs to be critically analysed is the Union Minister’s statements and its contents per se.
The Union Minister said that there was no dearth of money in his Ministry for the development of the state. But, he laid the foundation of 16 NH (National Highways) Projects worth Rs. 4,184 cr. for a total length of 298 km, which is Rs. 14.04 cr. per km, recently, whereas his own Ministry, as per Para 5.5 in the Annual Report of 2021 of the Ministry, awarded Rs. 2,939 cr. for 181 km, which is Rs. 16.23 cr. per km in the state, the release pointed out.
The MPCC release posed the question as to why the Union Minister laid the foundation of 16 NH projects at Rs. 2.19 cr. less for every kilometer of highways than what his own Ministry awarded years back in the same state, if there were no dearth of money in the Ministry in July, 2021?
The release then took note that the Union Minister stated that the projects worth Rs. 5000 cr. have been sanctioned for the state, but also pointed out that “as per the report of NHIDCL, a fully owned company of the Ministry, as on 31.05.2021, under Original Works, Preparation of DPR (Detailed Project Report) has cost of Rs. 18,331 cr. for 1422 km for Manipur.
This beggars the question as to why the Union Minister, if there was no dearth of money in his Ministry, sanction only Rs. 5000 cr. when Rs. 18,331 cr. has been already prepared in DPR for the state? Should sanctioning Rs. 5000 cr. in place of Rs. 18,331 cr. be considered a sign of having no ‘money issue’ in the Ministry?, the release said.
It said the Union Minister stated that the expansion of Highways in the state would be recommended under the Bharatmala Phase – II, but, the fact is under Bharatmala Phase – I, already Rs. 10,030 cr. for 736 km for Manipur has been prepared as DPR, as per the Ministry’s NHIDCL Report, as on 31.05.2021.
“Before the Union Minister talks about recommending projects from the state under Bharatmala Phase – II, it is expected from his Ministry to state on the status of Rs. 10,030 cr. for 736 km under Bharatmala Phase – I. How many crores of rupees has Manipur received under Bharatmala Phase – I? When will Rs. 10,030 cr. be sanctioned for the state under the Bharatmala Phase – I, which is expected to be ended by 2022? How many crores will the Ministry plan to sanction for Manipur under Bharatmala Phase – II, which is expected to be ended by 2024?,” the release questioned.
It said as per the statement of the Union Minister, while starting Green Highways (Plantation, Transportation, Beautification & Maintenance) Policy, 2015, it mentions that 1% of the total project cost of all highway projects will be kept aside for the highway plantation and its maintenance, which will generate employment, and every planted tree will be counted and auditing will be done, using ISRO’s Bhuvan and GAGAN Satellite systems. It also pointed out that as per the Ministry’s NHIDCL Report, as on 31.05.2021, for Manipur, Ongoing Works under Original Works has cost of Rs. 8203 cr. for 864 km.
If this is so, the release asked as to which is pertinently significant due to climate change.
As per 1% policy for Green Highways Policy under the Ministry, has at least Rs. 82 cr. (1% of Rs. 8203 cr.) been used to plant trees and provide local employment along highways in Manipur? How many crores have been utilized under the Green Highways Policy in the state? Has auditing of planted trees been done with ISRO & GAGAN Satellite systems in Manipur?
As per the statement of the Union Minister, the Prime Minister is giving highest priority to Manipur and the North East.
If these are true and “the Prime Minister is giving highest priority to Manipur, then why is the Prime Minister allowing a decreasing value of fund for highways, with a difference of around Rs. 2 cr. for every kilometer for highways from that of previous years, which is a compromising sign on quality standards maintenance of highways in the state?” the release asked.
“If the Prime Minister is giving highest priority to Manipur, then why is the Prime Minister not talking about solving climate change issues in the state by strictly ensuring the auditing of planted trees as per the 1% Green Highways Policy since 2014?” the release further questioned.
The Congress release also asserted that Chief Minister’s claims on completing Barak and Irang bridges as impractical.
On Makru bridge, the MPCC asked the following questions:
“As per the Union Ministry’s status report, as on 30.06.2021, the total length of Makru and Barak bridges is 2 km, at a sanctioned cost of Rs. 141 cr., which was awarded on 02-12-2016. But, as per newspaper’s reports, the length of Makru bridge is around 124 metre while that of Barak bridge is around 154 metre. So, the total length of Makru & Barak bridges, as per the newspapers, would be around 278 metre, which is 13.9 % of the total length mentioned in the Ministry’s status report on the details of the project as per the contract. What then is the actual length of Makru bridge built, which was inaugurated? What is the actual length of Makru bridge as per the contract? What is the ground meaning of ‘total length of 2 km of Makru & Barak bridges’ in the contract?
On Chief Minister’s recent statement on completion of Barak bridge & Irang bridge, the release again pointed out that “As per the newspaper reports on the statement of the Chief Minister of Manipur, the completion of Barak bridge would be done by September, 2021. But, considering the speed, which is at 70.40% in cumulative physical progress, of the projects of Makru & Barak bridges, as per the Ministry’s status report, as on 30.06.2021, the completion of Barak bridge would take around 1 year and 9 months from July, 2021 for its completion.
Again, as per the newspaper reports on the statement of the Chief Minister, the completion of Irang bridge would be done by December, 2021. But, the contractor, as per the Ministry’s status report, mentions that the date of completion would be 11.01.2023 for the Irang bridge, which is 4 lane bridge with 0.377 km of length, as per the contract, it pointed out.
Who then will build the Irang bridge – the Chief Minister or the Contractor? If the bridge is completed before time as per the contract, then who will be held responsible if the quality standards turn out to be compromised in future? How can the quality standards of the bridge be not compromised when the bridge, with physical progress of 2.94%, as per the Ministry’s status report, be made to be completed within 6 months?, the release further questioned.