The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its latest report for the fiscal year ending 31 March 2022 have flagged the “Upgradation of the road from Alongchen to Mangkolemba via Impur, Mopungchuket, Mongchen – Other District Road (ODR) to Major District Road (MDR)” project. The report was formally presented to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly on 14 September, 2023.


This project was sanctioned by MDoNER (February 2014) at an estimated cost of Rs 22.33 crore (May 2017) and was scheduled to be completed by August 2019. Notably, this project was under the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) Scheme, initiated in 1998 under the erstwhile Planning Commission and later transferred to the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MDoNER) in 2001.


According to the CAG report, the State Government approved six NLCPR projects including this during the fiscal year 2017-18, with a cumulative budget of Rs 184.45 crore, all scheduled for completion between 2019 and 2021. Notably, as of 31 March 2022, none of these six projects had reached completion.


The Detailed Project Report (DPR) for this specific project was prepared by the implementing Department, Nagaland Public Work Department (NPWD), Roads & Bridges (R&B), for a road length of 19 km from Milak River to Mangkolemba, passing through Khar and Mongchen villages under Mokokchung District, according to CAG. It was observed that the project remained incomplete even after 32 months (as of March 2022), incurring an expenditure of Rs. 14.99 crore.


The CAG report also highlighted numerous violations of NLCPR guidelines. In accordance with the 2016 Guidelines for Administration of NLCPR Scheme, projects financed through other Central Ministries or State Plans were to be excluded from the Priority List to prevent duplications. Furthermore, the concept paper’s scope was expected to closely align with that detailed in the DPR. Additionally, the administrative and financial approval from MDoNER explicitly mandated the strict utilization of funds solely for their designated purpose, with no leeway for fund diversion.


However, CAG found that the Department did not construct a seven km stretch of the Jangpetkong range road for Rs 5.04 crore between Khar village and Mongchen village, as indicated in Figure 1 despite this portion falling within the approved road length. Interestingly, this segment had already been completed using alternative funding sources, the report said.


Fig 1: Photograph showing stretch of road constructed beyond the approved length of road. (Photo: CAG)


The Department also constructed an additional 7 km of road beyond the approved length, which was not incorporated in the DPR. This violated the Guidelines for Administration of NLCPR Scheme 2016, as the project was proposed under a different scheme and included an unapproved portion of the road.


Moreover, CAG’s investigation revealed that the project had a Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) disseminated exclusively to departmental officials, with a single copy provided to the Contractor and Supplier Union in Kohima. The project had not been advertised in local or national newspapers, nor was it linked to the MDoNER/NEC website.


As of September 2022, only 84% of the physical and 81% of the financial progress had been achieved. Examination of the DPRs, Measurement Books (MBs), and Joint Physical Verification (JPV) in June 2022 revealed that the Department had constructed the road from the starting point to 9.5 km towards Mangkolemba.


In April 2018, members from the Technical Wing of MDoNER, along with members of the implementing Department, inspected the project. The inspecting team directed the Department to expedite completion of the remaining work in anticipation of the upcoming rainy season, adhering to the scheduled completion date of August 2019.


In January 2021, the project underwent inspection by a Board of Officers comprising representatives of PCD and technical officials, as per MDoNER’s direction. The Board recommended repairing the potholes in the completed portion of the road. However, the JPV conducted in June 2022 revealed multiple potholes along the 9.5 km completed stretch, as shown in Figure 2.


Fig 2: Photograph showing multiple potholes on the stretch of completed 9.5 Km (Photo: CAG)


CAG reported that the Department attributed the project’s delay to encountering hard rocks during execution and the overall impact of COVID-19 lockdowns.


Mokokchung Times

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