Bharatmala Pariyojana, a significant project that focuses on the development of a progressive road ecosystem, triggered a political row with oppositions alleging corruption during the process of rewarding the projects. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on this ambitious project presented to the Public Accounts Committee, which Ranjan Chowdhury led, found fault in the implementation of Phase 1 of the project.
As per the reports, the CAG has observed that the department selected the bids of ineligible bidders on the basis of faulty Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) or even without the DPRs indicating a violation of the guidelines and prescribed process of rewarding tender. It was also observed that the DPRs that were not appraised with due diligence were prepared by the consultant by a capable authority even before the project’s authorisation.
The Road Transport and Highways Ministry stated on the issue that the cost and findings by the CAG are misplaced and don’t align with the actual cost. However, it was recommended to the ministry to consider establishing a DPR cell for keeping in check the implementing agencies and creating an in-house expertise that can review road designs and reports adequately.
Also read: WORLD’S HIGHEST MOTORABLE ROAD IN LADAKH
Bharatmala Pariyojna is a flagship project of the Road Transport and Highways Ministry, which was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in the year 2017. The project is focused on the development of 74,942 Km of National Highways to boost and optimise the efficiency of the movement of people as well as freight in the country. The government has initiated Phase 1 of Bharatmala Pariyojana, which includes a total length of 34,800 km comprising the Residual National Highways Development Program (NHDP) with a length of 10,000 km. This Phase of the project was approved for development up to September 2022 with an investment of Rs. 5,35,000 crore.
Also read: Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Project
With the recent CAG report that was tabled in the parliament, it was found that the planning, monitoring, and management of the project were not up to the required standards. The CAG report will not be taken up examination immediately as the Minister will be given 30 days to finish the draft Action Taken Note to the CAG. After the submission of the Draft, the auditor will be provided another 30 days to vet the replies as well as get more information and clarifications from the ministry.
After the overall process, the evaluation of the reports will be taken into action. Bharatmala Pariyojana is a crown jeweling endeavour for India but has been delayed by four years due to several developments-based challenges. With the CAG reports, it is right to say that the project is facing a stumbling block.