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PWD officials suspended over bridge delay

Jorhat, June 24: The government has suspended three officials of public works department (PWD), including an assistant executive engineer of the Jorhat division (state roads) for negligence in discharging their duty, resulting in a delay for the Bhogdoi bridge project at AT Road here.

In an order by the commissioner and special secretary (PWD), Mohan Chandra Boro, issued last evening in Guwahati (the copy of which has reached Jorhat PWD divisional office today), three officials have been suspended from service with immediate effect.

The three officials are assistant executive engineer of PWD Jorhat sub-division (state roads) Dimbeshwar Sarmah, sectional officer (junior engineer) Bolin Gogoi and sectional assistant Rajib Bora.

The move comes in wake of the PWD drawing flak from all quarters with people and several organisations protesting time and again against the delay in the completion of the bridge, which has resulted in immense difficulties for commuters in travelling from one part of the town to other.

The district administration had indefinitely stopped traffic since Sunday on the two temporary subways after a rise in the water level of the Bhogdoi while one of the subways collapsed yesterday as a result of heavy rain in the past two days.

The delay of the project had figured in the speech of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his campaign for Jorhat Lok Sabha seat, which has been wrested by the BJP for the first time.

Modi had ridiculed chief minister Tarun Gogoi for not being able to complete the 16.4-metre bridge in his hometown even four years after laying the foundation stone in 2010. The bridge was scheduled to be complete within 18 months.

The RCC bridge is being reconstructed at a cost of Rs 7.18 crore (cost likely to escalate), as the previous one, completed 40 years ago, developed internal damage.

The new one is designed to be bigger, with wider carriageway for vehicles and pavements.

Source said the suspension has caused resentment among the PWD staff here for government not taking any action against the contractor (Raju Agarwala) whose firm was executing the project.

AICC secretary and Jorhat legislator Rana Goswami, who recently visited the site along with the Jorhat deputy commissioner S.V. Vasant, told The Telegraph this evening that he had recommended to the deputy commissioner to impose a penalty against the contractor according to PWD rules for the delay.

Goswami said he had telephoned Agarwala and asked him to complete the bridge by July 20 or else he would recommend holding-up of payment to him (contractor). Agarwala assured him of completing the work.

I have been telling the PWD commissioner and special secretary several times about the slow pace of work and had asked him to put pressure on the contractor to expedite the work, but unfortunately in spite of extending the deadline for completion many times the contractor has failed, Goswami said.


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