State sets up panel to probe rising cost of Survarna Soudha

State sets up panel to probe rising cost of Survarna Soudha

After spending crores of rupees on building the least-utilised Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi, the government has finally woken up to the huge cost factor.

It has formed a committee to find out why the construction cost was always on the rise ever since the planning was done in 2007.

As per the decision of the State Cabinet, the government constituted a committee headed by former additional chief secretary G V Krishna Rau to look into the financial aspects of the construction of the Soudha.

A government order (GO) to this effect was issued on September 16.

As per the GO, in 2008-09, the cost of the building was estimated at Rs 230 crore. The administrative approval was also sanctioned for the same.

On November 2, 2011, the upward revision touched Rs 391 crore. Even this was approved by the government.

In March 2013, the administrative approval was sought for Rs 438.04 crore.

The Chief Engineer, Communications and Buildings (North), had said the revision was to meet the expenses for taking up wall paintings, installing centralised air conditioners, etc, as suggested by the Task Force on Quality Control.

When the revision request was placed before the State Cabinet, it noticed a significant increase in the cost revision. Hence, it was decided to hold an inquiry into it.

The terms of reference the inquiry committee has been mandated with are: Whether it was possible to check the cost escalation from the time of the conception of the project and the last revision; Whether the three revisions undertaken were true to the actual appreciation in prices; Whether the work projected while seeking funds have been implemented and whether there are any lacunae in preparing the revised budgets; Whether there were lapses on the part of the officials.

If so, ways to set right the anomaly and improve the system; Report to be placed before the government within three months.

The committee, the government order said, would be provided with an office at the Suvarna Soudha.

However, Rau, sources said, preferred to work from Bengaluru instead of Belagavi. And the Public Works Department is yet to provide an office for the committee to function.

Besides, the committee may become a non-starter with Rau getting appointed as advisor to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.

Rau would be functioning from Hyderabad soon. However, M R Kamble, Principal Secretary, PWD, said, “The search for office space at the Vikas Soudha is on. The government will take action once Rau submits his report.”

Asked whether the government would make a fresh appointment in place of Rau, Kamble replied in the negative. Rau was not available for comment.

The Suvarna Soudha has hardly been of any use to the government.

In a year, 10 to 15 days of winter session of the legislature is being held from 2013 and occasionally the legislature committees hold their meetings.

There is no guesthouse facility attached to the Soudha.

Hence, during every legislature session, hotels in Belagavi witness roaring business.

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