Shimla: A bridge in Himachal Pradesh seems too far for over 34,000 people - in spite of Rs.21 crore spent on it, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has found.
With nine long years having elapsed, the fate of the structure over the Satluj river in Bilaspur district still hangs in balance, the CAG said in a report tabled in the state assembly last week.
The bridge was meant to shorten the distance between Chandigarh and Shah Talai village in the hill state by 32 km. On completion, it was meant to benefit 14,000 people of 14 villages located on the river's left bank of Swarghat and 20,000 in 19 villages on the right bank of Shah Talai.
The government, in May 2004, approved the construction of the 310m span pre-stressed concrete balanced cantilever bridge at Bagchhal village funded by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard).
The PWD awarded the contract to Gammon India Private Ltd at a tendered cost of Rs.22.84 crore to be completed in 36 months by July 4, 2008.
Technical sanction was, however, not accorded before awarding the work to the firm, the CAG found.
In June 2009, Gammon stopped decking work on the ground that strata around the pier was not the same as envisaged during designing the foundation.
However, launching of deck slab continued till January 2010 and the firm thereafter stopped the work.
In June 2011, the firm got the geological investigation of the bridge site done by the Indian Institute of Technology-Roorkee.
The IIT-R said it would be advisable to look for an alternate location for the bridge.
Considering the quantum of work executed, the time involved and the expenditure incurred, it however suggested a deep-seated foundation on firm strata at a depth of 20m.
The CAG said Gammon India again got a geotechnical investigation and bathymetric survey conducted in September 2011 from another agency. Based on its investigation, a revised proposal for the foundation of bridge piers was submitted.
The revised proposal was, however, not approved by the PWD till last May.
"The PWD in December 2011 granted extension of time up to March 2012 to keep the contract agreement alive. But it levied seven percent compensation of Rs.1.6 crore (on the firm) for delay in completion of work, which amount too was also not received till August 2012," said the CAG, in a report tabled in the state assembly last week.
Till March 2012, 61 percent of the construction work had been completed.
The PWD failure to accord technical sanction for the bridge construction and ensuring adequate geological investigation before awarding the work contributed to a delay in completion of the work for more than three years, the CAG report said.