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Time & cost overruns dash against project completion hope

The total original cost of 50 central sector projects in Assam costing Rs 150 crore and above each was Rs 33769.60 crore, but now their anticipated cost is Rs 47399.82 crore, registering 40.36 per cent cost overrun

Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, May 27: Projects in Assam are infamous for chronically being on the slow lane. However, a close study reveals that a number of central sector mega projects costing Rs 150 crore and above in Assam have also been on the same lane, leading to both cost and time overruns. Such delays make the public bear the brunt.

The last report of the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation’s infrastructure and project monitoring division has brought such facts to light. According to the report, the total original cost of 50 central sector projects in Assam costing Rs 150 crore and above each was Rs 33769.60 crore, but now their anticipated cost is Rs 47399.82 crore, registering 40.36 per cent cost overrun. The report also reveals that the cost overrun has been mainly in 16 of the 50 central sector projects. While the original total original cost of the 16 central sector projects was Rs 15110.50 crore, their anticipated cost now is Rs 28922.44 crore, registering 91.41 per cent cost escalation.

The report also reveals that some of the 50 central sector projects have time overruns ranging from 15 to 122 months. Time overrun, according to the report, is the worst in 12 of the 50 projects. These 12 projects lead to untold suffering for the public whose taxes provide the wherewithal for such projects.

Lack of monitoring by the ministries concerned, negligence on the part of the contractors implementing the projects, problem of land acquisition, law-and-order problems, bandh culture etc are considered as reasons behind the slow progress of such projects in the State.

The Bogibeel road-cum-rail bridge over the Brahmaputra near Dibrugarh, an ambitious project of NF Railway that has been declared as a national project, has been plagued by both cost and time overruns. The project that was approved in September 1997 had the original/revised cost of Rs 1,500 crore. However, the anticipated cost of the project now is Rs 5,000 crore. The original date of commissioning of the project was April 2008. However, the work of the project still goes on. There has been at least 122-month time overrun in this project. This is a matter of prestige for NF Railway.
The original/revised cost of New BG Line from Tetelia to Byrnihat, which was approved in September 2006, was Rs 200 crore. The anticipated cost of the project now is Rs 780 crore, and is expected to be completed by March 2019.
The four-laning of NH-37 from Numaligarh to Jorhat, which was approved in May 2015, has been running behind schedule. Likewise, the Assam Renewal Project of ONGC, which was approved in March 2009, has also been running behind schedule by 66 months.

When lack of monitoring by the ministries concerned leads to such time and cost overruns of central sector projects in Assam, when will the ministries concerned wake up to the situation and do their best to speed up project implementation in the State for its meaningful development?

About the author

Ankur Kalita