Thursday, March 22, 2012


Corruption in PWD had a negative cascading effect

Public Works Department has literally redefined the way one describes corruption, in India, at the grass-root level. Unlike other departments where bribes are a speedy way of doing work, in PWD, it is the other way round. Here corruption has a cascading effect on the entire society.

For once, let me keep numbers at bay and talk about something that almost everyone must have experienced. Main areas of work that PWD is largely responsible to maintain roads and drainage system. I would rather fall short of space if I start compiling examples and instances to prove how mismanaged these two areas of work are. Every year, across the nation, not only roads get destroyed post rains, but drains start overflowing, provided the city is fortunate to have a drainage system in the first place. PWD’s any repairing activities hardly last for few months, and wait for another round of rains to actually showcase the ‘work’ that has actually happened. Result? Traffic blockage, disruption of public life, material loss and widespread pandemics. For instance, last August in Ludhiana, heavy rainfalls had cost the city a whopping Rs 40 crore, due to damages to roads, human life and property.

The nexus among road mafia, PWD officials, local politicians, vendors and contractors have reached to such a level that any honest man’s convictions are at threat. A project director of National Highway Authority of India, Satyendra Dubey, had to pay with his life in 2003 in his endeavour to expose the mafia involvement in building Golden Quadrilateral highways under the monitoring of Prime Minister’s Office. Sometimes PWD outsources construction through private parties – and under the nose of PWD, and with a connivance of both, substandard material is rampantly used for building roads, bridges and other basic amenities. A glaring example for the same was collapsing of the footbridge near Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Delhi, just before the Commonwealth Games. Next in line is toll booths, spread across the nation. With sunset the toll nakas get active. Bribes at toll nakas to allow trucks and other transport vehicles not only breeds smuggling but also allows entry of counterfeit commodities in the market. In December 2011, Maharashtra government was alleged for facilitating corruption at toll points which was estimated to be around Rs 5,000 crore.

A few months back, in Madhya Pradesh, PWD Minister, Nagendra Singh revealed that illegal occupants (staying in government flats and bungalows) owe Rs. 18 crore in rent to the department and this nuisance was possible as PWD department didn’t get these flats vacated. In another case, CVC found PWD as the biggest defaulter in CWG with corruption being spotted in their five projects.

The fact that most of the PWD officers are corrupt and the mafias are linked to the bureaucrats and politicians makes it extremely difficult to curb the menace. Further, judicial delays have been acting as a catalyst in giving a free run to this nexus. There are times when one can see a glimmer of hope, when a corrupt PWD official in Dewas in Madhya Pradesh was slapped a fine of Rs.5 crore and three years of incarceration by the local judge as an exemplary punishment as a bulwark against corruption. But then as I said, it is just a glimmer, similar verdicts has to come up from the judiciary that will not only stall the penetration of corruption, but also create right precedence in the minds of the perpetrators.


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