Thursday, July 19, 2012

Report of State Govt committee on Omchung Jail miscalculation still awaited


GANGTOK, 18 July: The report of the state government on the Omchung Jail misadventure is still due. The report was to be submitted to the State government by the concerned agency on 30 June. The state government has been much lambasted in the latest CAG report over the decision to construct the jail at Omchung in West Sikkim.
However, even before the CAG report had been placed before the Sikkim Assembly in the last week of June 2012, the state government had set up a committee to examine the issues with regard to the damages of District Prison at Omchung, Gyalshing, West Sikkim.
This committee was set up in early May 2012 by the government ostensibly sensing that something had gone very wrong with the project and also probably in anticipation of the criticism coming its way regarding the project in the report of the Comptroller and Accountant General.
This was a high powered committee headed by the Secretary, Roads & Bridges department as chairman and included Secretaries of Buildings & Housing, Water Security and PHED, the principal director, Mines and Geology; DIG, Prisons; Additional Secretary, Land Revenue and the Chief Engineer, Building & Housing.
The committee was to inspect the affected site and prepare a technical report; besides the government had also directed it to conduct field studies and prepare a set of recommendations based on the field findings and submit its final report to the government by the end of June, 2012.
As of now there is no indication that the report is ready or submitted to the government. While the construction of the sub jail had been taken up in the year 2005-06 it was only 6 years later that the government woke up to the fact that there had been a miscalculation and mis-assessment of the project leading to the constitution of a fact finding committee in May this year.
However it is learnt that before the project was executed, the Mines & Geology Department had been asked to give its opinion following which the department forwarded that the area fell under subsidence zone since 2001-02 and was thus unsuitable for construction.
The Building and Housing Department however went ahead and took up the construction of ‘Sub-Jail Complex at Omchung’, West Sikkim on the requisition of Police Department from April 2005 at an estimated cost of Rs. 5.14 crore, and subsequently revised on October 2008 to Rs. 6.61 crore, under the scheme of Modernisation of Police Force. Till date, an expenditure of Rs 5.90 crore was incurred towards completion of 90 per cent civil work.
While the report of the committee is overdue the CAG has come out with its report on the project which states “absence of detailed survey and investigation of the land profile to identify its suitability for construction of jail at Omchung in West Sikkim ultimately led to abandoning of structure and infructuous expenditure of Rs. 5.90 crore, besides denying accommodation to the jail inmates of West district.”

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