Scandal-hit NHAI scraps recruitment process

Scandal-hit NHAI scraps recruitment process

Centre wants to conduct fresh interview for all the posts

As a cleansing act, the ministry has also recommended repatriation of over half a dozen senior officers of the NHAI, who were involved in the appointment process, to their parent cadre.

The “appointment scam” rocked the NHAI after an internal inquiry conducted by its Chief Vigilance Officer revealed serious administrative lapses in the selection process, held in March 2010. Besides nepotism, the vigilance inquiry also revealed that some of the selected candidates did not attend the interview.

Around 50 officers of the Public Works Departments of different states were selected for the interview. Besides repatriating all these officers, the ministry wanted to conduct fresh interview for all the posts.

The NHAI, which is at present headless as its chairman’s post is vacant for the past few months, has been facing criticism for not meeting its road-building target.

Secretary Road Transport and Highways R S Gujral has been in charge of the NHAI since the retirement of the then chairman Brijeshwar Singh. But,  Gujral  has been on leave for the past over 15 days following his reported differences with Minister C P Joshi on some “administrative” issues.

As per government data of August last year,  65 per cent of road projects taken up by the NHAI suffered time and cost overruns. World Bank data of October 2009 showed that 40 per cent of road projects faced cost overrun between 25 per cent and 50 per cent.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced,  when he assumed office for the second term in May 2009, that the Centre will build 20 km per day. But, the ministry is still struggling to construct 12 km road in a day due to delays in awarding contracts and problems over land acquisition and environment clearances, among others.

To meet its target the NHAI has opened six zonal offices in various places of the country and plans to recruit senior offices to expand its network. But all its plans gobbled by the recruitment scam, a senior official in the ministry told Deccan Herald. The prime minister will review the progress of road works on Monday to set new target for the 12th Five Year Plan.