Agency planned to ensure quality in public works

Agency planned to ensure quality in public works

Six-laning of Bangalore-Mysore highway proposed

Agency planned to ensure quality in public works

The State government is contemplating setting up an independent agency to ensure quality in implementing public works, including roads, Public Works Minister H C Mahadevappa said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters, he said he accorded top priority to quality work. Officials will be held accountable for substandard work.

Hence, the government is planning to set up an independent agency to oversee implementation of public works, he said.

The previous BJP government had set up the Task Force on Quality Assurance in Public Construction, comprising experts in civil engineering. Mahadevappa, however, did not clarify whether the new government will continue the task force.

He said the PWD had taken up pothole-filling work across the State and directions had been issued to officials to speed up the work and complete it at the earliest.

He said he was examining a proposal to upgrade the Bangalore-Mysore State highway into a six-lane road due to increase in traffic.

The traffic volume recorded on the route is about 80,000 passenger car units, which is high. The highway needs to be upgraded and it is under active consideration of the government, he added.

Asked whether the government would take back excess land handed over to Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (Nice) for implementing the controversial Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project, Mahadevappa said he would conduct a detailed study of the project and take appropriate action if there was any illegality.

Toll after budget

The minister said the government will take measures to impose toll on the users of select State highways after the presentation of the budget next month.

“Tolling is not aimed at revenue generation. It is meant for maintenance of roads. The government will ensure that the common man is not burdened while imposing toll,” he said.

The PWD has identified different stretches of State highways for imposing toll. They are roads developed with help from external funding agencies like the World Bank. The decision to impose toll was taken by the previous BJP government, he said.

Besides, the department has identified nine stretches of State highways to be developed on a public-private partnership basis.

The private partner will invest on upgrading and recover the cost by collecting toll from the users for a fixed number of years. The private partner will be responsible for keeping the road in good condition, he added.

Sand policy in two months

The minister said the proposed sand-mining policy will be finalised in two months’ time. A Cabinet sub-committee set up to prepare the policy is gathering information on various aspects of sand mining.

The policy will be based on the industry requirement, legal framework and ecology. Sand mining should be done without disturbing the ecology, while, at the same time, ensuring adequate supply of sand to the construction industry, he said.

Asked about allegations that his son was involved in illegal sand mining, Mahadevappa said it was far from the truth.

“Neither my son nor any member of my family is into sand mining. The allegation was made against me because I spoke against the sand mafia,” he said.

He said pending bills to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore had piled up in the department and he is taking steps to clear them.