Bridges are important component of road connectivity. Therefore when budgetary outlays for road connectivity are put on the table these include a variety of components like bridges, culverts, subways, by-pass and many more things, In a hilly State like ours in which road connectivity requires maximum bridge lengths be it the plains of Jammu region where summer nullahs are the main sites needing to be bridged over or the hilly tracts where many nullahs flow down from the hills carrying water to disgorge in the main river.
The Comptroller and Auditor General have presented its report on the road connectivity and the status of a large number of bridges that were required to be built at various places. The report is highly critical of the way the State R&B Department is handling the bridge construction and management. It has identified 18 bridges across the State that have been abandoned by the contractors after completing only a fraction of the work. The report speaks of lack of diligence with the policy planners. The major flaw it has found is that no thorough planning is made and not all aspects of a bridge under contemplation are made before the blue print is ready. Second flaw is that there are frequent changes midway in the design and pattern of the bridges whose construction has been undertaken. The report indirectly casts aspersions on the intelligence of the engineers and the planners who are not decisive what type of bridge should be made and where. Midway changes are most unreasonable because it causes immense disruption of the plan in full. No experienced and sensible construction company is happy with changing the pattern of the bridge halfway. The result is that in many cases contractors have abandoned the work after having received and spent good deal of money on pre-requisites. When the project is halted or abandoned, the money spent on whatever work has been done is a big waste. All this is attributable to the lack of site survey. The CAG has also said in very clear terms that owing to thoughtless planning and absence of necessary monitoring input, there has happened much financial loss to the State that runs into crores. Obviously, it spoils the whole scheme. The report brings under survey 18 bridge works valued at 43.95 crore rupees on which work has been withheld for one reason or the other. The report has cited a number of them with the budget provided, percentage of budged spent and yet the construction of the bridge is either suspended or abandoned.
What can be the reasons of stopping the ongoing work on a sanctioned bridge project needs to be found out. It is just the wayward planning devoid of sense of responsibility and the phenomenon of no accountability. Is it because of political pressures either from the Ministers, MLAs and local political leaders or from the bureaucratic quarters remains unknown? Nevertheless, in a large number of projects we have frankly said that there is political interference and the officials can turn and twist the plan to suit their vested interests.