Sunday, March 05, 2017

Why’s Huda ‘slashing’ huge penalties on contractors?

Times of India: Gurgaon: Sunday, March 05, 2017.
There's something fishy going on in Huda's engineering wing. Officials have been imposing heavy penalties on contractors for poor work or delay in its completion, only to reduce the amount significantly in the subsequent months.
This recurring practice, hinting at rampant corruption in the department, has brought the officials under scanner for alleged irregularities.
In the last three years, penalties worth Rs 4.96 crore were imposed on 14 contractors, but Huda ended up collecting only Rs 2.13 lakh as fine. According to the documents received through an RTI query, in October 2014, Huda had given a contract to a private company for constructing parking, footpath and other related infrastructure in a shopping centre in Sector 12-A for Rs 44.20 lakh. In April 2015, Huda imposed a penalty of Rs 4.42 lakh on the contractor for delay in construction and poor work. But the amount was reduced to a mere Rs 5,000 in January 2016.
In a similar instance, Huda gave A contract to a private company in January 2014 for developing parking and other infrastructure in Sector 39 for Rs 89.45 lakh. In March 2015, a penalty of Rs 7.79 lakh was imposed on the contractor for poor work, which was reduced to Rs 10,000 in May 2016.
There are a total of 14 instances (TOI has all documents) in the last three years wherein Huda imposed heavy penalty on the contractor but reduced the amount significantly subsequently.
Huda enters into an agreement with contractor at the time of awarding work contract and as per clause II of the Huda Agreement Act, the development body can impose penalty on the contractor for delay or poor work. "Penalties worth around Rs 4.96 crore were levied on the contractors, but only Rs 2.13 lakh was collected," said SK Sharma, who got the details through the RTI query.
Sharma said the total amount finally collected was less than 5% of the penalty imposed. "Either the imposition of such huge penalties is wrong, or reducing the amounts is wrong," alleged Sharma, adding that both cases indicate that something wrong is going on in Huda's engineering department.
Suspecting huge corruption in the engineering department, Sharma said, "This is just the tip of the iceberg." Sharma is now planning to move anti-corruption authority Lokayukta to look into the matter in detail.
When contacted, Huda administrator Yashpal Yadav said he was not aware of the issue. "It has now been brought to my notice. I will look into it and if find if there are any irregularities. Strict action will be taken against the official concerned," said Yadav.