Bhubaneswar: Finding a major financial lapse in the Gurupriya work, Accountant General of Odisha (AG) said the state government extended undue benefits of Rs 74.19 crore to a contractor engaged in construction of the bridge in Malkangiri district. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the project July 26 that connected 151 cut-off villages of Malkangiri district.
“In deviation of analysis of rates, estimates prepared for EPC (engineering, procurement & construction) contract with undue provision of Rs 24 crore for hiring barges and Rs 4 crore for launching girders besides excessive provision of overhead charges and contractor’s profit led to undue benefit of Rs 74.19 crore to the contractor,” the AG said.
For construction of the bridge, Rs 104.38 crore was sanctioned by Chief Engineer (DPI & Roads) in February 2014. For awarding the work under the EPC mode, it was raised to Rs 115.80 crore with an additional provision for maintenance for five years. Later, the value was raised to Rs 172.58 crore in Sept 2014 so that the project could be completed by Sept 2017, the AG said.
Further, the auditor said the Odisha Public Works Department (OPWD) code doesn’t have any item for including lump sum provision in the estimated cost. “A lump sum provision of `24 crore was made towards hiring of barges including petrol oil and lubricant for tugs and boats. Further, a sum of `4 crore was provided for launching girders for construction,” it said.
Moreover, estimates for similar high level bridges over the river Mahanadi at Cuttack to connect Nuapatna and at Sambalpur near Mandela Chowk did not provide for hiring barges and separate lump sum provisions for launching girders, the AG pointed out.
The estimate was increased by `44.87 crore. Considering that the bid was 65.34 per cent higher than the estimated cost, the extra expenditure due to inflated estimate worked out to `74.19 crore, it added.
Meanwhile, Congress and BJP slammed the government over the issue. Congress alleged that the government was looting crores of rupees by showing undue favour to the contractor while BJP demanded a high-level probe into the case. Works minister Prafulla Mallik said he will comment on the issue only after going through the AG report.