The Calcutta Municipal Corporation on Thursday made it mandatory to ferry hot mix in sealed containers and file daily reports on the quantity of the material used during road repairs across the city.
It started a probe after Metro highlighted how the CMC had allegedly spent Rs 441 crore in three years to produce enough hot mix to put a 1.5-inch thick top coat on 2,250km of road, which is more than the distance from Calcutta to Kashmir. In reality, only about 240km of city roads were repaired using the mix.
A discrepancy of nearly Rs 300 crore between the allocation for hot mix and the cost of the bituminous layer laid on the city’s battered roads between 2009 and 2012 was detected during a random check by the civic body’s finance and accounts department.
Only 20 per cent of the 1,200km of CMC-maintained streets had received a hot mix coat during that period, whereas the money was enough to repair 2,250km of roads.
“We are taking a slew of measures to prevent misappropriation of funds in the use of hot mix. We have also ordered a probe into the discrepancy found in the production and utilisation of hot mix,” said Sushanta Ghosh, the mayoral council member (roads).
After a meeting with mayor Sovan Chatterjee, Ghosh instructed that bitumen and diesel, needed for preparing the hot mix, should be ferried from the refineries of Indian Oil to the CMC’s central store at Moulali in sealed containers. The raw material would have to be unloaded at the central store during daytime.
“The seals will be broken in the presence of representatives from the central store and the hot mix plant. This is to prevent any possibility of bitumen and diesel being offloaded midway,” he said.
The roads department has been asked to file detailed reports within 24 hours of using hot mix. Till now, reports were filed more than six months after the material was used.
In many cases, reports were never filed, said an accounts official of the CMC. “There were no checks if the material was used on a road at all,” he added.
The authorities have directed the central stores to change the method of procuring stone chips and sands — two other ingredients that go into the hot mix.
These raw materials had been purchased in terms of volume, measured in cubic metre. From now on, they have to buy stone chips and sand in terms of weight and volume to bring in more transparency.
Ghosh has sought reports from the Palmer Bazar and Goragacha plants on the amount of hot mix produced there during 2009-12 and how much were supplied to the roads department.
“The reports submitted by the two plants state that bitumen, stone chips and sand were supplied to produce 7.5 lakh metric tonne of hot mix over three years,” he said.
Roads department records show that 1,200sq km of roads were repaired with 3 lakh metric tonne of hot mix from the two plants during the corresponding period.
“If the reports from the two plants are accurate, the material should have covered double the length of roads repaired or relaid,” Ghosh said.