BHOPAL: The construction of the roads goes with the power, whichever political party comes to power, their MLAs get more roads in their constituency. When Congress was in power for 15 months, the government then allocated funds to its MLAs to improve road network in their areas, and now with BJP back at the helm, the focus has shifted to improving infrastructure in constituencies led by its party legislators.
In the proposed budget of the financial year 2021-22, the public works department (PWD) is going to construct new 460 roads in the state. Earlier, the BJP MLAs had alleged that Congress government ignored their constituencies and did not allot money for roads, however, now the Congress legislatures are blaming the ruling government for not giving roads to their constituencies.
The BJP government has prepared a proposal and covered only 90 Assembly areas, and of these the ‘Maximum area of BJP MLAs and only a few constituencies of Congress and other parties,’ said the former PWD minister Sajjan Singh Verma.
The Congress leader said that when he was the PWD minister he had given 37 roads to the constituency of the sitting PWD minister Gopal Bhargava, but now he has only given two roads to his assembly area.
Echoing the same views, another Congress MLA Priyavrat Singh said that around 50 roads will be constructed in the constituency of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PWD minister Bhargava, however, terming the allegations baseless said that Congress MLA Kunal Choudhary has thanked the government for sanctioning road construction in his constituency. He added that for the FY-21-22, 466 new roads will be constructed in the state.
Funds remain unutilised: While the opposition keep on accusing the government of meting out step-motherly treatment to non-BJP constituencies, the fact remains that the development funds allotted to these areas remain unutilised. In the FY-20-21, the PWD department was allotted Rs 5262 crore, but it could only spend Rs 3522 crore. A sum of Rs 600 crore was allocated under the Central Road Fund, which is given to maintain and construct the economically important roads, the department could only use Rs 307 crore. To strengthen the roads Rs 210 crore were allocated, so far only half of the amount- around Rs 107 crore has been utilised. To upgrade the air strip in the state, Rs 8.80 crore were allocated, of which merely Rs 4.80 crore used.
Bridge construction projects move at snail’s pace: The department has moved at snail’s pace when it comes to construction of large and medium bridges. In the FY-16-17, 100 bridges are proposed to be constructed, of which only 85 could take shape. Similarly, in the next FY-17-18, the department could only build 51 bridges of the sanctioned 100. Sanction for constructing 70 bridges was granted in FY-18-19, but the department could finish only 57 bridges, and FY-19-20 out of 80 bridges, 62 were constructed. In the current FY- out of 25 bridges, only 13 projects have been executed.
PIU projects pending: The work at the end of the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) of the PWD is also moving at slow pace. The PIU is engaged in construction of buildings and other structures. In the FY- 17-18 out of 852 projects, only 392 were completed, in the FY-18-19 only 340 projects could take shape out of 1437 enlisted. The PIU has in hand 8805 works to be completed in FY-20-21, but 372 projects are yet to be started and 1909 projects are crawling.
Construction of hospitals, schools take a back seat
The projects which are important and directly related to the public are not in the priority list of the department. Construction of hospitals and other work related to hospitals are pending with the department in huge numbers. As of now, 186 hospital projects are underway, while the work on 36 has not yet started. Similarly, the construction of school buildings has also taken a back seat. The department has to begin work on 169 schools, currently construction of 897 schools is in progress. The scene is not much different in construction of buildings for higher education. Currently, 171 building projects are under progress