Cost escalation of projects intolerable

Non-seriousness of state government coupled with ineffective state machinery has resulted in projects getting delayed resulting in cost escalation. The cost of several proposed projects in J&K state is going to shot up to three or four times owing to several disputes of stakeholders involved in the project. To cite an example, total cost of Sawalakote hydro-electric power projects, which state government proposed to construct over river Chenab between Baglihar and Salal projects, has shot up to rupees 16,359 crores and could go up further if deadline of seven and a half years, fixed for its construction, was not met. The project with initially proposed at the cost of Rs 1926.25 crores in 1997 but ground work started only in 2001. Now its revised cost has been worked out to Rs. 16,359 crores, an eye opening case for persons at the helm of affairs. Similarly, cost of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Line (USBRL) Project has increased by 300 percent that initial estimate of cost.
The initial cost of the project estimated at Rs 1,500 crore in 1994-95 has touched Rs 20,000 crores as of Sept 2013 an increase of more than 300 percent based on the rates of 2010. The section from Udhampur to Katra was completed in July 2014 more than 11 years behind completed in July 2014 and accordingly section from Katra to Banihal, scheduled to be completed by August 2007, is yet to be completed.
It reflects that departments concerned are not taking any step towards cost escalation. This is not exception but almost all projects of state or central government are not only completing after deadline but also with cost more than three or four times than proposed. There are many reasons of this delay on the part of executing agencies. In some projects, several departments or agencies are involved in the project and take a long time in taking no objection certificates from either from Forest, Revenue or Environment department. In some cases, contractor or executing agency leave the project incomplete with various reasons like not payment of their dues in time or not complying other terms and conditions of agreement. It shows that officials of department concerned are not sensitive towards cost escalation being public money. They dilly-dallying attitude is affecting revenue of the state and government should formulate a viable mechanism to avoid further loss of hard earned revenue of the state. The policy of fixing accountability and transparency would not only help to save loss of government revenue but would also complete the project within the deadline.

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