Manipur PCC raises question on ‘self contradictions of BJP governments

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Imphal: Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee said it exposes self contradictions of BJP governments, both in the centre and the state, on the public statements made by Union minister Nitin Gadkari against chief minister of Manipur N. Biren Singh as well as the party finds the CM’s deadline on completing Barak and Irang as physically, financially and logistically impractical.

Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson N. Bupenda Meitei in a press briefing on Thursday said as per the PIB press release, on Monday Union minister of road, transport and highways, inaugurated and laid foundation stone of 16 national highways projects worth Rs 4,184 crore for a total length of 298 km of roads; projects worth Rs 5000 crore have been sanctioned for the state; expansion of highways in the state will be recommended under the Bharatmala Phase – II; and Prime Minister is giving highest priority to the North East.

Ironically, the inauguration of Makru bridge by the Union minister in the state is not mentioned in the Government of India’s PIB press release, Bupenda said.

The Union minister’s public statements against the chief minister on the question of slow speed in progress of work, maintenance of quality standards, desire for honesty in work and remarks on leadership, have been consistently raised by the Congress for the betterment of the state’s infrastructural developments in terms of roads and highways. The party takes serious note of the Union inister’s statements on the chief minister, he added.

Before exposing the self contradictions of the chief minister on highway bridges such as Barak and Irang bridges, the Union minister’s statements must be critically analysed to further table the contradictions of the minister, he said.

The Union minister said there was no dearth of money in his ministry for the development of the state. But, he laid the foundation of 16 NH (National Highways) Projects worth Rs 4,184 crore for a total length of 298 km, which is Rs 14.04 crore per km, recently, whereas his own ministry, as per Para 5.5 in the Annual Report of 2021 of the ministry, awarded Rs 2,939 crore for 181 km, which is Rs 16.23 crore per km in the state. The question is: Why did the Union minister lay the foundation of 16 NH projects at Rs 2.19 crore less for every kilometer of highways than what his own ministry awarded years back in the same state, if there were no dearth of money in the ministry in July, 2021? The Manipur PCC spokesperson said.

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The Union minister stated that the projects worth Rs 5000 crore have been sanctioned for the state. As per the report of NHIDCL, a fully owned company of the ministry, as on May 31, 2021, under Original Works, Preparation of DPR (Detailed Project Report) has cost of Rs 18,331 crore for 1422 km for Manipur. The question is: Why did the Union minister, if there was no dearth of money in his ministry, sanction only Rs 5000 crore when Rs 18,331 crore has been already prepared in DPR for the state? Should sanctioning Rs 5000 crore in place of Rs 18,331 crore be
considered a sign of having no ‘money issue’ in the ministry? He asked.

The Union minister stated that the expansion of highways in the state would be recommended under the Bharatmala Phase – II. But, the fact is under Bharatmala Phase – I, already Rs 10,030 crore for 736 km for Manipur has been prepared as DPR, as per the ministry’s NHIDCL report, as on May 31, 2021. The question is: Before the Union minister talks about recommending projects from the state under Bharatmala Phase – II, it is expected from his ministry to state on the status of Rs 10,030 crore for 736 km under Bharatmala Phase – I. How many crores of rupees has Manipur received under Bharatmala Phase – I? When will Rs 10,030 crore be sanctioned for the state under the Bharatmala Phase – I, which is expected to be ended by 2022? How many crores will the Ministry plan to sanction for Manipur under Bharatmala Phase – II, which is expected to be ended by 2024? He added.

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As per the statement of the Union minister, while starting Green Highways (Plantation, Transportation, Beautification and Maintenance) Policy, 2015, it mentions that 1percent of the total project cost of all highway projects will be kept aside for the highway plantation and its maintenance, which will generate employment, and every planted tree will be counted and auditing will be done, using ISRO’s Bhuvan and GAGAN Satellite systems. As per the ministry’s NHIDCL report, as on May 31, 2021, for Manipur, ongoing works under original works has cost of Rs 8203 crore for 864 km. The question, which is pertinently significant due to climate change in the state, is: As per 1 percent policy for Green Highways Policy under the ministry, has at least Rs 82 crore (1 percent of Rs 8203 crore) been used to plant trees and provide local employment along highways in Manipur? How many crores have been utilized under the Green Highways Policy in the state? Has auditing of planted trees been done with ISRO and GAGAN Satellite systems in Manipur? He asked.

As per the statement of the Union minister, the Prime Minister is giving highest priority to Manipur and the North East. The questions are: If the Prime Minister is giving highest priority to Manipur, then why is the Prime Minister allowing a decreasing value of fund for highways, with a difference of around Rs 2 crore for every kilometer for highways from that of previous years, which is a compromising sign on quality standards maintenance of highways in the state? If the Prime Minister is giving highest priority to Manipur, then why is the Prime Minister not talking about solving climate change issues in the state by strictly ensuring the auditing of planted trees as per the 1 percent Green Highways Policy since 2014?

Congress exposed the impracticability on chief minister’s claims on completing Barak and Irang bridges.

On Makru bridge, it asked that as per the Union ministry’s status report, as on June 30, 2021, the total length of Makru and Barak bridges is 2 km, at a sanctioned cost of Rs 141 crore, which was awarded on December 2, 2016. But, as per newspaper’s reports, the length of Makru
bridge is around 124 metre while that of Barak bridge is around 154 metre. So, the total length of Makru and Barak bridges, as per the newspapers, would be around 278 metre, which is 13.9 percent of the total length mentioned in the ministry’s status report on the details of the project as per the contract. What is the actual length of Makru bridge built, which was inaugurated? What is the actual length of Makru bridge as per the contract? What is the ground meaning of ‘total length of 2 km of Makru and Barak bridges’ in the contract?

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On chief minister’s recent statement on completion of Barak bridge and Irang bridge, the Congress raised that as per the newspaper reports on the statement of the chief minister of Manipur, the completion of Barak bridge would be done by September, 2021. But, considering the speed, which is at 70.40 percent in cumulative physical progress, of the projects of Makru and Barak bridges, as per the ministry’s status report, as on June 30, 2021, the completion of Barak bridge would take around 1 year and 9 months from July, 2021 for its completion. As per the newspaper reports on the statement of the chief minister, the completion of Irang bridge would be done by December, 2021. But, the contractor, as per the ministry’s status report, mentions that the date of completion would be January 11, 2023 for the Irang bridge, which is 4-lane bridge with 0.377 km of length, as per the contract.

Who will build the Irang bridge – the chief minister or the contractor? If the bridge is completed before time as per the contract, then who will be held responsible if the quality standards turn out to be compromised in future? How can the quality standards of the bridge be not compromised when the bridge, with physical progress of 2.94 percent, as per the ministry’s status report, be made to be completed within six months? Bupenda asked.

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