SAMBALPUR: The Public Works Department’s preference for a particular contractor in awarding projects, including construction of a bridge over Mandalia Nullah in the town, has raised questions which remain unanswered.
The PWD has apparently turned a blind eye to poor standard of work executed by the contractor Patnaik Construction Company and delay in completion of projects awarded to it earlier. The PWD authorities’ decision remains a mystery as they beat about the bush when asked about the cause of awarding the project to the contractor having a dismal record.
Assistant Executive Engineer (PWD) P K Nath justified the decision stating that Patnaik Construction Company was the lowest bidder. But when asked about the time overrun of works which were earlier awarded to the construction company, he argued that the PWD was not getting enough responses to the tenders floated by it.
When pursued over the reasons behind low response to tenders, Nath said according to guidelines, projects of the district cannot be awarded to contractor from other districts. But the Department had awarded the road work from Ainthapali Chowk to Fatak in Sambalpur town, at a cost of more than `63 lakh, to a contractor from Sundargarh district. When Nath was countered with the project, he claimed that extortion was keeping local contractors from applying for the tenders.
Nath further said there was an organised extortion racket in the town which has delayed execution of development projects, including roads awarded to Patnaik Construction. He, however, admitted that the department has not taken up the matter with police.
When contacted, DIG (North) Prateek Mohanty, who was recently elevated to the post after serving as Sambalpur SP, refuted Nath’s claim and said no such extortion racket operated in Sambalpur. He said if such was the case, the PWD could have lodged a complaint with the police. He further expressed surprise over the fact that Nath, who has met him on numerous occasions in the past, has never mentioned about the so-called racket.
Surprisingly, both Executive Engineer Sanjay Sahu and Assistant Executive Engineer Nath of PWD have managed to stay put in Sambalpur for a long time.
The bridge project, to be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 4.66 crore, will connect the town with National Highway 6 at Laxmi Dungri. The bridge will be of 30 feet high and will rest on five pillars. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.