THE INDIAN EXPRESS
Defence lab wasted money on bridge Army couldn’t use: CAG
Pranav Kulkarni : Pune, Sun Dec 25 2011, 02:47 hrs
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has now targeted city-based Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) lab Research and Development Engineers (R&DE). A CAG report has revealed that the non-execution of a project to build a modular bridge by the R&DE resulted in wastage of assets created at a cost of Rs 21.46 crore as the users, in this case, the Army, found the bridge unusable. The report, however, mentions that the DRDO and the Army were aware of the project limitations but no attempt was made by either of them to resolve the matter beforehand.
The report says the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had, in October 2002, sanctioned a project to build a 46-metre single-span bridge of Military Load Class 70 (MLC 70). R&DE was supposed to complete the work by October 2006 at a cost of Rs 24.25 crore. In May 2006, it sought an extension of the Probable Date of Completion (PDC) up to October 2008. In October 2007, the R&DE, against specifications, submitted a trial report to the DRDO headquarters for a 20-metre bridge and MLC 40 standard, which was not acceptable to the Army. Also, the PDC of the project was again extended to December 2009.
During this time, the R&DE developed a 40-metre, MLC 70 bridge, which was usable after trials but was not what the users had specified (46 m). The report said in March 2010, the R&DE closed the project after having spending Rs 21.46 crore and proposed to develop a new project worth Rs 13.25 crore with original specifications, which was to be completed by July 2012.
“Thus instead of adhering to specifications, R&DE, Pune, developed a bridge which was not required by the users. The end result was — after an expenditure of Rs 17.89 crore, excluding the cost of five carrier vehicles being used in next project, the requirements of the user could not be served,” the report says.
“The details of the case, MoD’s reply and the clarification given by the users reveal that both the user and DRDO were aware that the bridge being built was 40 metres and MLC 70. Further, the DRDO had its limitations for construction of the bridge with original specifications. Though both the user and the designer were aware of the limitations of the project, neither of them took the initiative to foreclose the project,” it says.
Manish Bharadwaj, scientist and spokesperson, DRDO said, “We will have to speak to DRDO authorities before commenting.”