Fund hold-up by state stalls ADB aided road works

IMPHAL, 14th Jan: On account of the government of Manipur not releasing fund for undertaking road development projects, Asian Development Bank (ADB) is learnt to have categorically told the state authorities that it would cease funding for other proposed projects in case utilisation of the previously allocated funds could not be authenticated.
According to an informed source, ADB’s stand to hold back further funding is mainly due to inordinate delay by the state government to release funds already sanctioned by the funding agency and approved/released by the Union government.
Due to non-release of the sanctioned funds, work agencies could not make any significant progress of their assigned tasks and consequently made the ADB to keep in abeyance more funding for on-going as well as upcoming projects after the matter was highlighted to the ADB.
It is said that projects which are likely to be most affected without the ADB’s patronage include the ambitious two elevated highways and Imphal ring round, both envisioned by the state government to ease the problem of traffic congestions in and around the twin capital districts. While revealing that fate of the two projects; for which the state approached the ADB for assistance and concept papers of the same had been approved by the Ministry of Urban Development, remains uncertain in case the funding agency does not empathises, the source said ADB is particularly upset over lack of progress in the execution of the Tupul-Kasom Khullen and the Imphal-Kangchup road projects.
The source also informed that ADB’s country director had recently sought an explanation from state PWD officials as why the government had not released the requisite amount out of the fund that it had sanctioned for construction of the two said road projects.
The said projects are being implemented by ABCI Infrastructure Private Limited as the nodal work agency and the total amount pending release for the last 3-4 months is said to be Rs 14 crore.
As per the agreement signed with ADB, the state government is liable to ensure release of sanctioned funds to the work agency within 15 days of receiving the sanction order.
Apart from the ADB country director rapping the PWD authorities for non-release of fund for over 3-4 months, a contractor under the nodal work agency has formally intimated to the PWD to dissociate from the project.
With the said contractor expressing dismay over non-release of fund to the ADB director the latter categorically told the PWD officials that there will be no further funding of proposed projects in case usage of the previous allocations could be authenticated, the source said.
In another disclosure, the source maintained that the state government has been generating income of Rs 4-5 crore as GST out of the fund released by the ADB.
Further stating that there is strong suspicion about insistence on percentage deduction as the root cause for the delay in releasing the pending fund, the source pointed out that for a similar project ADB is funding in Mizoram the neighbour state’s government ensures release of requisite fund well ahead of actual release of fund by the ADB.
A 20-member team of consultative engineers of ADB has been periodically checking if quality of the road constructed under the funding of the agency is being maintained. These engineers submitted the Bills to the state PWD department and which is then passed on the contractors by the PWD. All the projects taken up by ADB are also assessed by the PWD engineers from time to time. During the inspection most of the project works were found done by maintaining proper work quality, stated the source.
Agencies concerned have been releasing funds for maintaining the national highways and maintenance of IVRs is being controlled by Ministry of Rural Development under PNGSY scheme. But for repairing/maintaining major district roads, state highways, etc., the ministry did not release any sanction. At present most of the roads in the state are in a dilapidated condition, for repairing these roads and construction of alleviated highways and ring roads in the state, sanction of Rs 15 crore was persuaded to ADB but the state was disheartened to learnt that no sanctions will be granted if documents of earlier projects are not submitted.
The two proposed alleviated highway projects aimed at connecting Koirengei to Malom via Imphal and Imphal to Imphal-Moreh road across Manipur University, Canchipur.

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