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  4. Launched in 2010, Indo-Nepal border road project is only 29% complete: CAG

Launched in 2010, Indo-Nepal border road project is only 29% complete: CAG

CAG said that the government in November 2010 took up the construction of roads along the Indo-Nepal Border in Bihar (564 km), Uttar Pradesh (640 km) and Uttarakhand (173 km) at a cost of Rs 3,853 crore.

Written by: India TV News Desk New Delhi Published on: April 07, 2022 14:06 IST
Launched in 2010, Indo-Nepal border road project is only
Image Source : PTI (REPRESENTATIONAL)

Launched in 2010, Indo-Nepal border road project is only 29% complete: CAG

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said that performance audit of Indo-Nepal border roads have shown inadequacies. It said that the construction of 1,377-km-long Indo-Nepal border road that started in 2010 is still 29 per cent complete.

In a report submitted to the Parliament, the CAG said that the government in November 2010 took up the construction of roads along the Indo-Nepal Border in Bihar (564 km), Uttar Pradesh (640 km) and Uttarakhand (173 km) at a cost of Rs 3,853 crore.

The timeline for completion of the project was March 2016, but it was subsequently extended to December 2022. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released the funds aggregating Rs 1,709.17 crore to these states as of March 31, 2021, the CAG said.

The delay was caused because of inadequacies in planning and financial management, poor contract management and execution of works. The delay also led to cost enhancement.

On project planning and execution, the CAG said that in West Champaran (Bihar), the proposed alignment approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in September 2010 was in proximity with the India-Nepal Border (INB) touching Valmikinagar, which was on the northernmost side of the wildlife reserve area.

Although the wildlife clearance under single-window system was available for the border road, presuming that wildlife clearance would not be given by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF), Road Construction Department (RCD) did not apply for the same and changed the alignment (April 2011), the CAG said.

The alignment was shifted to the southernmost boundary (April 2011) of the wildlife reserve area more than 20 km away from the international border, it said, adding the shifting did not serve the purpose of border road, as it was beyond the patrolling jurisdiction of the SSB, which guards the border.

As on March 2021, 363 BOPs (81 per cent) were away from the main alignment of the proposed border road. Out of 363 BOPs, 125 BOPs were away at a distance of ranging one km to 20 km and 16 were away at a distance of more than 20 km.

No provision was made to provide the connectivity to such BOPs which were away from the proposed border road, the CAG observed.

Fifteen bridges were constructed in the alignment of the roads along the Indo-Nepal border in Bettiah (West Champaran District) of Bihar before August 2016.

After their construction, the alignment of the roads was changed by the RCD of Bihar, the CAG said, adding there was no clarity on whether the bridges were connected to the revised alignment, the CAG said.

The audit team along with the engineers of the RCD, Bettiah (West Chamaparan district) conducted joint physical verification of three approachable bridges and found that the bridges were incomplete with no approach roads, it said.

On financial management, the auditor said the utilisation of funds was not properly managed as the MHA released funds to the states though the unspent balance of previous years were not utilised by the state governments.

This resulted in blocking of funds with the state governments during the years 2013 to 2016. The MHA sanctioned Rs 2.34 crore on inadmissible components like utility shifting and afforestation to Uttar Pradesh.

Further, the CAG said, the state government had diverted or incurred expenditure on inadmissible components aggregating Rs 13.41 crore.

The MHA did not account for the interest of Rs 36.74 crore earned by the state government on unutilised central funds. Further, the advances and interest thereon aggregating Rs 136.60 crore for mobilisation advance and equipment advance are yet to be recovered from the contractors in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the CAG said, adding due to the slow progress of construction of roads, the project's costs were increased by Rs 831.30 crore in 21 stretches.

The CAG said in Uttar Pradesh, mandatory tests of samples at various road levels were not carried out as per norms leading to shortfall ranging from 28 per cent and 91 per cent.

Further, there was substantial shortfall in field inspections by Chief Engineer and Superintending Engineers. This was fraught with the risk of sub-standard work, it said.

With PTI Inputs

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