New Assembly complex jumps 6 deadlines, project cost escalates to Rs 195 cr in 8 yrs

Incomplete new Assembly Complex in Jammu. — Excelsior/Rakesh
Incomplete new Assembly Complex in Jammu. — Excelsior/Rakesh

*JKPCC moves at snail’s pace, claims completion by Dec 2020
No change in structure after abolition of LC

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Dec 8: The construction work of new Assembly complex at Civil Secretariat Jammu, taken up by the Jammu Kashmir Project Construction Corporation (JKPCC) agency of the PW(R&B) Department, more than eight years ago, has jumped at least six deadlines, leading to project cost escalation from Rs 104.40 crore to Rs 195 crores.
Highly placed official sources told the EXCELSIOR that this Rs 91 core escalation in the initial project cost, has been generated due to the very slow pace of work being executed by the JKPCC, exerting extra burden on the public exchequer during last over eight years, while the J&K authorities have imposed no penalty on the agency and its officials at the helm of affairs for very poor and dismal performance. And moreover, with the abolition of Legislative Council in Jammu and Kashmir UT, no change is being made in the existing new Legislative complex.
Though the officers connected with the project, claimed they will complete entire remaining civil, electrical and mechanical works by December 2020, but still there is uncertainty prevailing on meeting this target again by the agency, due to delay being caused in funding by the Finance Department as per new DPR prepared after cost escalation. The final nod from the State Administration on this new revised project cost is waited since June 12, 2019.
Sources further revealed that while moving at snail’s pace, even during BJP-PDP regime, this important Jammu project faced `rawdeal’ as the flow of funds remained suspended to this project for about two and half years from June 2015 onwards up to December 2017, despite the fact that Legislative Assembly Speaker hailed from Jammu. The Kashmir based ruling coalition allegedly tried to slow down the ongoing work on this project.
With the unnecessary delay on the work and addition of some more features, the cost of project in first phase escalated from Rs 104.40 crores to Rs 150.58 crores. The executing agency (JKPCC) revised this project cost in December 2016 and sent the proposal to the Government, but that approval awaited Government nod.
Funds to the tune of over Rs 63 crore were said to have been spent on this project so far. The second revised project cost projected by the JKPCC has reached up to Rs 195 crores and the new DPR was forwarded to the Government for approval in June 2019 but final nod for the escalated cost of project from the UT Administration is yet awaited, sources added.
Sanctioned during 2011, the foundation stone for the project was laid by the then Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah in April 2011. Thereafter, the JKPCC was asked to prepare project report and design of this project with sufficient space for parking of vehicles of Legislators, Ministers, its staff besides media-persons covering the proceedings of the Legislature.
Two years’ time was given to the executing agency to complete this project which ended in April 2013, but even after 8 and half years the work is still incomplete. This project has jumped at least six deadlines so far but the fate of the project still hangs in balance, the sources added.
Sources further revealed that this 5-storey building will have parking at Lower and Upper basements with capacity of parking for at least 150 cars/light vehicles and 100 scooters/ motor-cycles. It will have direct bridge to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat. As proposed, the old Legislative complex structure will be dismantled with the passage of time.
Dy General Manager, JKPCC Unit-II, Girdhari Lal, the project head when contacted said that project was initially started on the conceptual design but later complete DPR and design was prepared by involving a Delhi based consultancy. He said the work was started on this project in April 2012 with the initial project cost of Rs 104.40 crores. Due to poor flow of funding and suspension of funding for some time mid way, the pace of work on project was affected. But now there is no problem but the funding as per the revised project cost of Rs 195 crore is awaited, he added.
The DGM further disclosed that many features were upgraded later and advanced installation of equipment was advised by the top officials in the Government and therefore, the project cost has also increased.
Now, the most advanced electro-mechanical and sound system is being installed. There is provision of lifts as well in the building. The said that JKPCC had submitted proposal with regard to escalated project cost of Rs 150.58 crores to the Secretary to Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs department, J&K Govt on December 8, 2016, but the proposal was not cleared. Again, after incorporation of new features and change in the furniture etc, the revised DPR worth Rs 195 crores was submitted to the Government (Law Deptt) but the clearance is yet awaited. He added that as and when the proposal is cleared, the pace of work will be expedited on the project.
“Entire structure is almost complete. Hardly 15 % civil works are left besides a connecting bridge to the complex. That will also be completed within 3 months. Many additional facilities and features have been added to this new complex as compared to the old one. The complex has been equipped with modern fire fighting / alarm system, lifts, digital lighting control system, FACADE lighting, LAN, CCTV, PAVA, AV system and solar lights besides rain water harvesting and treatment systems.
In the Assembly Hall, space of 500 people for Press Gallery and visitors gallery has been created. It would have capacity for 130 members in the main Assembly Hall. Council Hall will have capacity of 80 members. Tenders for Mechanical and Electrical works have been called, but there is poor response. As and when, they are finalized, it would take hardly 3-4 months to complete that work as well. By all means, the JKPCC will be able to complete this project by December 2020,” the DGM claimed.
Managing Director JKPCC, M. Raju when contacted said slow flow of funding and addition of some new features and modern gadgets/ equipment in the later stage, was the main reason behind the delay in timely completion of this project. He said main structure and super structure have been completed and finishing works were in progress. Some electrical and mechanical works are yet to be executed. He said there is no scope of change in the structure after abolition of Legislative Council in J&K. Moreover, there are no such instructions from the Law department. JKPCC is just contracting agency and will go by the requirements of the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Department, he added.
When asked about massive cost escalation on the project the MD said, advanced modern electro-mechanical equipment and sounds systems have been added besides several other modern features in the complex and it raised the project cost to over 150 crores and now to Rs 195 crores. But the funds are yet to be released by the Administration. If the funds are made available to JKPCC, the project will be completed within next 6-7 months, Raju claimed.