The standing committee of the BJP-led NDMC today ordered an "internal audit" into the financial planning of the much-delayed Rani Jhansi flyover project in north Delhi, after a party councillor alleged "cost escalation" during its execution.
Senior officials of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), however, rejected the charge, saying there had been "no cost escalation" or "any irregularity" in the ambitious project that seeks to decongest the area.
The 1.6-km-long flyover from near St Stephen's Hospital to Filmistaan Cinema, was originally scheduled to be completed by September 2010, but has missed several deadlines.
Lt Governor Anil Baijal on June 23 had inspected the site of the under-construction Rani Jhansi Grade Separator, and directed various departments to complete the work ahead of August 15.
During a meeting of the standing committee of the corporation today, BJP councillor Neeraj Gupta alleged that "cost of the project had been escalated and people in the NDMC, if involved in it, should be held accountable".
He also alleged that there were other irregularities in the execution of the project, such as use of "waste material to fill the back side of ramps of the flyover, but cost was being accrued for superior quality Yamuna sands".
A senior official countered the allegations levelled by the councillor with a detailed response during the course of the meeting, saying, "The amount meant to be paid to the contractor has been proposed to be increased in view of the increased quantum of work." In a proposal tabled during the meeting, engineering department officials have asked to "increase the contractual amount of the project from Rs 93.84 cr to Rs 114.95" citing increased quantum of work.
NDMC standing committee chairperson Veena Virmani after hearing both the sides, ordered that an internal audit be conducted into the financial planning of the project and a report be submitted to the panel in two months.
The civic official, during an interaction with the reporters later, said, "The expenditure sanction for the scheme was Rs 177.72 crore as accorded by the then unified MCD in 2006. In 2014, the scheme amount was revised to Rs 724.22 crore which was also approved by the LG." Contractual amount is the amount to be paid to the contractor to execute the project while the expenditure on scheme is the overall amount to be spent on the project, including amount spent on acquisition of land, officials said.
"The delay has occurred due to land acquisition issues, which consumed about five years, besides there are multiple agencies involved in it," another senior official said, while claiming that "no government land was acquired for this project".
"This project uses the spine-and-beam technology, like a butterfly span on a central beam. And, when it was first proposed, it was to be the second such project in India after the Mumbai's Worli Sea Link.
"Now, other projects have already been executed in Delhi, so we have lost the opportunity for that tag," he said.
The working order for the project was given in 2008 and it was to be finished by September 2010, the other official added.
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