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Over Rs. 73 lakhs wasted on causeway-cum-barrage: CAG

By Our Special Correspondent

GULBARGA, JULY 28. An "unfruitful" expenditure of Rs. 73.26 lakhs by the Hyderabad Karnataka Development Board while converting a causeway into a causeway-cum-barrage across the Hagari in Siruguppa taluk in Bellary district has come to light. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (GAG) has in its latest report revealed several irregularities in the work. The report said the board had taken up the work without obtaining clearance from the Water Resources Development Organisation and the Tungabhadra Project authorities.

The report has also pointed out an avoidable expenditure of Rs. 83.99 lakhs used for reconstructing the collapsed causeway. The report said the decision to convert the causeway into a barrage was taken in 1995-96 by the board and water was impounded in the barrage in 1998. However, in December 2000 the central portion of the causeway-cum-barrage collapsed disrupting vehicular traffic on the causeway. Later, the Government decided to retain only the causeway dismantling the barrage. The damaged portion of the causeway was reconstructed at a cost of Rs. 83.99 lakhs, and vehicular traffic on the causeway was restored in October 2001.

`Act of irregularity'

Scrutiny of records revealed that the Public Works Department implemented the work, though it (work) was outside its purview. The report said this was an act of irregularity.

The causeway was primarily designed as a non-water retaining structure and the board had converted it into a causeway-cum-barrage without ensuring its structural suitability to retain water. The Chief Engineer (Communication and Building), who inquired into the breach of the causeway-cum-barrage, in his report to the Government in January 2001 said the causeway had collapsed because of the impounding of excess water in the barrage, which was constructed without ensuring the stability of the existing causeway and also because of the difficulty in operating the gates.

Defective design

The report said the gates of the barrage were neither designed according to the specifications nor was their design approved. The defective and incomplete fabrication and also their poor maintenance had rendered the gates useless.

The report said a special vigilance squad of Chief Minister's secretariat investigated the matter in August 1999 after allegations of substandard fabrication of gates had been made. The investigating team had recommended rectification of the defects. However, the officials concerned had failed to take any action.

The report said if the officials concerned had ensured structural suitability of the causeway-cum-barrage and designed the gates according to the specifications and also taken action to ensure the smooth operation of the gates, the structure could have been saved.

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