Railway construction materials being misused in Dhanusha
Janakpurdham, March 2
Materials meant for the construction of the broad gauge Jayanagar-Janakpur-Bardibas railway line are reportedly being used for some irrigation project.
According to technicians at Jamuni Irrigation Project, over 30 tonnes of steel meant for the railway line has so far been used for construction of a headwork (diversion point of a waterway) of the irrigation project near Parbaha Station in Dhanusha.
“We have no idea how and from where the construction materials are fetched,” said Site Engineer Girendra Jha, upon being asked to comment on the irregularities.
Balram Mahato, Managing Director of Kalika Raman Construction, the company that is entrusted with the establishment of both the projects, conceded that the materials meant for the railway were being used for the irrigation project.
“But it’s not like we’re stealing the materials. We’ve borrowed them for now and committed to reimburse the materials later,” he argued.
Interestingly, all the materials and equipment meant for the railway, including steel, cement, jeeps, excavators and heavy tippers, were brought under the customs duty and tax free provision.
However, as most of the equipment and materials are being used for another project, this has delayed railway construction, claimed the stakeholders.
Mahato, however, defended himself and argued that it was better to put the construction materials to use rather than keeping them idle. “I understand that the materials and equipment came for the railway project free of tax, but I don’t see anything wrong in making good use of those materials when work on the railway has yet to begin,” he said.
Meanwhile, though only 28 bridges for the 69-km railway have been constructed so far, Mahato is said to have made a fake report showing construction of 38 bridges to claim the expense for the same.
The company has already declared that the project will be delayed by a month citing the recent Madhes agitation.
On his part, Railway Department Site Engineer Binod Ojha disavowed the misuse of railway effects. “I don’t know how much of steel and cement has been brought for the railway project on tax free provision. I also don’t know anything whatsoever regarding the misuse of construction materials,” he said.
The stakeholders, however, have accused Ojha and Jha of working in cahoots.
Meanwhile, following a complaint with the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority over the irregularities, commissioner of the anti-graft body Raj Narayan Pathak had monitored the construction of the irrigation headwork and taken stock of railway materials a week ago.