Getting to the finishing line in time sure has its benefits — ask the sorry-we’re-late Bengal government.
In a welcome departure from project delays and cost over-runs, the government appears to have sprung a surprise by completing the AJC Bose Road and Lockgate Road flyovers ahead of schedule and saved around Rs 40 crore.
The Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is now considering a proposal from the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to divert the funds saved by the timely completion of two flyovers towards construction of two underpasses and widening of three arteries in Calcutta.
“We could do this because we went by the book and made it a point to avoid any kind of irregularity. We kept in constant touch with the Japanese bank, its consultants and the contractor,” said H. Mohan, joint secretary, transport department.
“We kept all expenses under check and even cut down the projected expenditure under several heads,” added Mohan.
The transport department, meanwhile, has decided to utilise the surplus funds to construct and repair three roads and underpasses at Patipukur and Nagerbazar.
A Rs 34-crore project plan has already been submitted to the JBIC.
The early completion of two flyovers of the five being funded in Calcutta by the JBIC and the project proposal found mention in the Japanese Parliament recently, transport department officials said.
The AJC Bose Road flyover, erected at a cost of Rs 177.73 crore, is already in use.
The code of conduct put in place by the Election Commission has prevented the inauguration of the Rs 20-crore ready-for-use Lockgate Road flyover, as the transport department wants the chief minister to cut the ribbon.
Transport minister Subhash Chakraborty may be savouring the almost-unprecedented achievement of his department, but sources said a major share of the credit should go to Yachiyo Engineering Corporation, consultant for the flyover project.
Yachiyo, along with a handful of government officials, had successfully overseen the construction work.
Asked why the other projects — like the Kidderpore flyover or the canal excavation — have got delayed or suffered cost over-runs, transport department officials were quick to blame red tape, what else.
Besides bureaucratic hold-up in decision-making, nepotism in selecting contractors and suppliers and lack of coordination between departments were mentioned as the delay devils.
“One of the major reasons for the slowdown is political intervention in every aspect and the high-handedness of the local toughs, who often force contractors to buy building materials from them,’’ they complained.
But for the JBIC-funded projects, officials said, there had been no bending of rules.
“The instruction from the chief minister’s office was clear — no one except the empowered officials could intervene,’’ officials added.