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Delay stick on PWD engineer

The 12km road on which work has been stalled following allegations of the agency bypassing tender norms. Picture by Santosh Mandol

Asansol, Jan. 19: A PWD engineer in Asansol who had allegedly put off for six months the final go-ahead letter to a private agency engaged to widen and repair a road has been sent on deputation to Asansol-Durgapur Development Authority.

The action against Pranab Chatterjee was taken a few days after the Nadia-based agency, Meghnad Engineering and Construction Company, said it was working “under instructions” from the engineer when the firm was accused of using substandard materials to repair and widen the 12km stretch leading to NH2.

“He has been sent on deputation to ADDA. He had delayed for months giving the final go-ahead letter to Meghnad construction. I don’t know yet if it is a punishment transfer. All I can say is Bhajan Sarkar has taken charge in place of Pranab Chatterjee,” Saumitra Sen, the superintending engineer of the PWD in Burdwan, said.

Sources said a few days after residents of Neamatpur, through which the road passes, accused the agency of bypassing tender norms, Sen convened a meeting with local Trinamul MLA Bidhan Upadhyay.

MLA Upadhyay said he had been getting a number of complaints against the engineer and the agency.

“The engineer was delaying issuing the final go-ahead letter. The repairs were held up for six months. But when the work finally began, the agency was accused of using inferior materials and not widening the road to 30ft as specified in the tender. So I approached senior PWD officials,” Upadhyay said.

When the agency was asked about the allegations, the company’s project in-charge, Kanu Dey, had said: “I am working under instructions from the PWD engineer.”

The government has of late adopted a “no-nonsense attitude” towards errant employees. Two PWD engineers responsible for maintaining the GT Road in Hooghly were transferred to a faraway place in north Bengal last month for allegedly submitting a faulty report. Two other engineers were put on compulsory waiting on the charge of using inferior materials for repairing two national highway stretches.

Engineer Chatterjee was responsible for maintaining roads in the Asansol subdivision. Repeated calls to his cellphone went unanswered.

The Burdwan PWD had one-and-a-half years ago taken up the project to repair and widen the 14ft road to 30ft after complaints and agitation by the residents. Meghnad had bagged the Rs 18-crore project.

But despite getting the work order from the PWD’s Burdwan office, the agency could not begin the repairs in the absence of a final go-ahead letter. The agency had accused Chatterjee of asking for favours, a charge he had denied.