Jairam Ramesh at the conference in Ranchi on Thursday. (Hardeep Singh)
Jharkhand features prominently among those states that lag behind in road construction. And the main reason for it is dearth of contractors.
Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh revealed this startling fact while addressing the inaugural session of a daylong conference on “accelerating development of rural and urban roads and highways in Jharkhand”, organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce at a city hotel on Thursday.
“I am yet to see a local contractor taking up a project, which involves road construction of standard quality,” Ramesh said, adding that all agencies concerned should contribute to building a local contracting capacity in the state.
Contractors usually come from outside Jharkhand and leave the job midway for petty reasons, the minister said.
Sub-contracting further aggravates the situation. The main contractor often leases out the job and it affects the quality of work, he explained.
The Union minister, however, promised to make amends.
The Central government has initiated steps to make it mandatory for contractors to submit details of sub-contractors within 30 days after they are awarded a road construction job.
“The state government should also help create a congenial working atmosphere, provide security to the workers at site and ensure that construction is being done in accordance with the specified norms,” Ramesh said.
Alok Bhardwaj, technical director, URS Scott Wilson India, pointed out to Ramesh that Sher Shah Suri had a vision and constructed Grand Trunk Road that was still serviceable. He then asked him if the present government also had any such vision as far as road construction was concerned. To this, Ramesh replied that “connecting every little pocket” was the aim of the government.
Earlier, I.K. Pateria, director (technical), National Rural Roads Development Agency, said that guidelines for construction of all-weather rural roads were specified and monitoring of quality was done by competent authorities.