The heavy rains lashing the city have caught the Public Works Department (PWD) completely off guard, and it is forced to look on as a mere spectator when drains across the city are overflowing. The Department was yet to start its pre-monsoon works, usually executed in May, and the summer rain, which is raging on like the monsoon, is mocking at its plans.
Usually, before the monsoon sets in, the Department assigns contractors to clean debris and soil that clog the drains and culverts. This mitigates overflowing of drains to a large extent. But the advent of rains in May was not something the PWD authorities expected.
A PWD-Roads official said that another factor which is causing delay in pre-monsoon works is PWD’s financial crunch. Contractors are hesitant to take up projects as several bills since July 2013 have not been paid, said the official, adding that in Kerala, bills amounting to Rs 100 crore are pending at PWD-Roads.
PWD Secretary T O Sooraj said that Executive Engineers have been instructed to approach District Collectors and examine whether pre-monsoon works could be executed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). He said that if this works out, PWD funds can be utilised to carry out post-monsoon works. There have been complaints about contractors’ unsatisfactory work, and MGNREGS would be a better option, he added.
In a couple of cases, the Department has undertaken flood damage control works.
An amount of around Rs 20 lakh has been sanctioned for repairing the damage caused by an uprooted electric post in Vinod Nagar-Vayu Vihar Road, near KIMS Hospital. The construction work of a 350-metre drain along the Kaniyapuram-Chirayinkeezhu road has been sanctioned around Rs 25 lakh.
Calamity works do not involve a tender process, and are awarded to contractors on quotation basis. However, the complete list of natural calamity works is still to be prepared.