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Monday, March 4, 2024

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Monday, March 4, 2024

Stringent Actions

By the Editor

Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati (IIT-Guwahati), agency entrusted for inquiry into dome collapse at Mawdiangdiang, New Shillong Township, few months back has submitted its report to High Power Committee (HPC) along with suggestions. On September 16, Meghalaya Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh and Chairman of HPC informed that designer of the dome and contractor of under-construction assembly building have been penalised for their lapses as per agreement. Furthermore, designer has also assured that qualified technical person will be appointed for supervision work who will also coordinate with others and will be stationed in Shillong. New dome design will be freshly prepared free of cost and in view of sad experience light materials will be used for construction of the dome. All these pre-requisites will be ready in three weeks’ time and subsequently presented to HPC for approval. Government told HPC that Public Works Department (PWD-Buildings) will appoint an experienced technical engineer for collaboration. Does this imply that earlier there was no such personnel from government’s side or even if there was then that person was not competent enough? Tragedy happened at night-time at 12.30 am on Sunday May 22 and so there were no workers in and around the place of occurrence when the 70-ton 178-foot tall structure came crashing down otherwise human loss would have been incalculable. Lesson learnt and which should be thankful to divine providence.

According to Right To Information (RTI) findings there was an unholy nexus in dealings and transactions between different parties and which government failed to detect. Tender for the project was floated in 2018 and the contract was finally awarded to the company from Uttar Pradesh, Rajkiya Nirman Nigam Limited on condition that no sub-contract be allowed. But the company has violated the norm by subcontracting the work to two contractors who were earlier disqualified during evaluation stage of tender. Design was prepared by New Delhi- based Design Associates and was vetted by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee and finally approved by Meghalaya Urban Development Agency. The iconic building was expected to be completed by August and many legislators had hoped that the Autumn Session would be held at Mawdiangdiang but the dream was dashed. Loss was estimated about Rs. five crore which, as per clause of the government, is to be borne by contractors. Total expenditure of the new assembly building is over Rs 177.7crore while Rs 36.4crore has been sanctioned for fixtures and furniture, electrical work, etc.

Public are to bear in mind that government money is people’s money that is their money which government collects through taxation, directly or indirectly, and therefore cannot be ignored. They too should be aware of this fact and so should not take the matter lightly. In our country, people seem to care less of what government does and they wake up only when something goes wrong and begin to point fingers at somebody. Thomas Caryle said: “In the long run every government is the exact symbol of its people, with their wisdom and unwisdom; we have to say, like people like government”.

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