The much publicized Bikram Chowk-Gandhi nagar Flyover project , which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on May 6, has become the ‘talk of the town’ here as the bumpy drive on this new flyover, constructed with the whopping cost of Rs 77 crore by ERA, has raised serious questions on the `quality’ of work executed and the `capability’ of some people connected with this project.
The tax payers of the State are feeling duped by the people at the `helm of affairs’ as their hard earned money has not been properly utilized. Leave aside a technical person or an engineer pointing out the technical defect in construction, even a common man of the city is also not happy with the quality of work executed on this flyover project. They feel that a speeding vehicle on this flyover may cause accidents and for this the firm involved in the construction and the agency officials should be penalized.
The drive on the other already constructed flyovers in the city at BC Road, Jewel Chowk and Bus Stand areas is very smooth. But this new flyover from Bikram Chowk to Gandhinagar has apparently been found technically defective and unsound. Even the elevations at both ends are not smooth and correct, they maintained.
Sources in the R&B Department told agency that ERA sanctioned this 1.3 kms long flyover project worth Rs 77 crore to Maharashtra based firm, Balecha Constructions Pvt Ltd, having expertise in the field. This firm took its share and sub-let the work to a Kashmir based firm United Jhelum Road and Builders, having no much expertise in the field. While the top ERA officials claimed that this project is tie-up between the Balecha Constructions of Mumbai and Kashmir based firm but the naked truth is that this entire project was completely handled by the Kashmir based firm, having top political connections and the top ERA officials did not raise any objections to it.
Interestingly, the ERA has engaged two Consultancies IPE Global, Delhi and CDS Smith, Bangalore for technical support and quality management and look after other aspects of this flyover project besides several other projects in Jammu. They were paid Rs 30.69 crore by the ERA for their services. They too, are equally responsible for the defect that has surfaced in the construction of this flyover project.
Retired Chief Engineer R&B, MM Sharma when contacted for his expert comments on it said that this new flyover from Bikram Chowk to Gandhi Nagar definitely has technical problem. Any body can feel it while passing over this flyover. He said old flyovers in Jammu city have been constructed by the UP Construction Corporation and one can see the quality of work.
Sharma, who remained associated with the construction of these old flyovers in Jammu city for long, further said that vehicle faced jumps at the expansion joints. “If it goes on like this and not repaired, the bearings under the joints will get damaged even within few months. Then it will take hard labour and much time to lift the joints and replace the bearings. Both joints should have been smooth and well balanced and there is problem at most of the expansion joints. These things should have been noticed during construction by the engineers and consultants given the task. Even the elevations are not satisfactory, Sharma maintained.
Another technical expert in the field, retired Chief Engineer R&B, KK Arora expressed his unhappiness over the quality of work executed on this flyover. He said there is certainly some defect as joints of the spans are not smooth. The agency and the firm involved in the construction should be taken to task and ERA must also fix responsibility on the consultancies hired from outside the State for this purpose. It was their responsibility as well to check the quality or work and other technical aspects. They are heavily paid for it. He said there is still scope to remove these shortcomings and the firm should be asked to do it immediately, Arora added.
Chief Executive Officer, ERA, Vinod Sharma, when contacted said that this project worth Rs 77 crore was allotted to Balecha Constructions of Maharashtra and they later had some tie-up with Kashmir based firm. He said the ERA has paid money to the tune of Rs 56 crore so far. IPE Global Consultancy was paid Rs 13.57 crore for this project and some other projects here while CDS Smith was paid Rs 17.22 for their consultancy services for this flyover and some other projects.
He said the ERA Executive Engineer, Shakti Sagar was connected with this whole flyover project and immediately after its inauguration, he left for Srinagar with Darbar Move the next day. He could not find time to have drive over it. Sharma said Sagar was supervising the project and he can give the whole details and aspects of technical problem being felt. He further said that one year delay in the project was due to delay in land acquisition, court stay by a private party and damage caused to 4th Tawi Bridge from there spans had to be transported.
The CEO claimed that he would get this flyover examined from the consultants and the faults rectified from the concerned firm. When asked if this project was allotted to Balecha then why the Kashmir based firm having no expertise was allowed to undertake the whole work, the CEO said as per contract agreement, they went ahead with the work. Moreover, the Bombay firm provided most of the machinery and some manpower as well. He claimed that faults will be removed shortly. On the issue of taking action or any penalty on the firm or the consultancies, the CEO remained non-committal.