By Accommodation Times News Service
Functioning of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has come in for a critical review at a two-day brainstorming session held at the behest of the Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation M Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi.
The review was undertaken with the objective of identifying reasons impacting efficiency of project implementation and to identify measures to ensure timely completion of works besides ensuring transparency and accountability. During the two day review that concluded late last evening, Naidu did some plain speaking voicing his concerns over public perception about functioning of the major government construction organization. Top brass of Urban Development Ministry and CPWD besides 75 Chief Engineers of CPWD from across the country participated in the review.
The review was conducted in the backdrop of the visits of M Venkaiah Naidu to states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and discussions with local CPWD officials and client organizations and feedback obtained there in. subsequently, the Minister underscored the need to tone up the working of CPWD.
After intense deliberations and at the behest of Venkaiah Naidu, a 15-point Charter of Action has been drawn up to improve functioning of CPWD, as follows:
1. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) including specific time frames to be evolved for each construction activity;
2. To ensure transparency, project details should be made available in the public domain through on-line and ‘information display boards’ at all work sites with details of project including cost, project schedule, major features, details of contact person for complaints, reasons for delay if any;
3. Accountability to be enforced by taking action against officers responsible for delays in execution of works;
4. Payments to contractors to be made through electronic mode only;
5. Decentralized decision making to avoid delays – only substantial and policy issues to be referred to CPWD head-quarters and all other issues to be disposed off/resolved at the level of Regional Heads;
6. File clearance should not take more than five days and in case of delay, reasons for the same to be recorded and action to be taken if the delay is found unjustified;
7. Sufficient number of contractors to be empanelled for better response to tenders and ensuring timely execution of works;
8. Operational manuals and rules to be revised to promote timely, transparent and accountable execution of works;
9. Third party audit of works by organizations with no conflict of interest to be undertaken for which services of reputed institutions like the IITs can be availed;
10. Zero tolerance for irregularities;
11. Mandatory field inspection visits by senior officers and regular submission of inspection reports and their review for correctional interventions for timely execution of projects;
12. Punctuality to be ensured by introducing Bio-Metric attendance marking systems;
13. Cleanliness to be ensured at all offices and work sites;
14. Immediate measures to be launched to make government buildings energy efficient;
15. Sensitive administration to be ensured addressing genuine individual problems of employees including posting of spouses as per DoPT Guidelines, ensuring completion of tenures of postings etc.
Naidu urged the CPWD to be guided by the Prime Minister’s norm of 3 Ssi.e Skill, Speed and Scale and assured that there would be no political interference in the functioning of CPWD. The Minister said he would write to all the Chief Ministers to enable design certification by CPWD architects to do away with further approval by local bodies to avoid delays.
Execution of 702 projects costing more than Rs.5.00 crore each has been reviewed. It has been revealed that about 400 of them are running behind schedule for various reasons like delay in approvals by local bodies, delay in handing over project sites, delay in release of funds by clients, environmental and forest clearances besides internal administrative reasons.
It has been decided that CPWD would seek replacement of budgetary mode of funding by a non-lapsable mode to address delays in release of funds.
Venkaiah Naidu directed CPWD to update on the Web Based Project Monitoring System details of status of all the 2,900 ongoing projects including dates of sanction, commencement of work and scheduled date of completion, present status of work, reasons for delay if any, cost over runs etc., to him by 15th of this month. He said the same would be placed in the public domain.