Panel slams govt after delay in constructing new AIIMS
New Delhi: The "careless" selection of project consultants for construction of six new AIIMS "did more harm than good", a parliamentary panel has said, slamming the Union health ministry for failing to make a comprehensive assessment before their appointment.
The committee noted that the ministry should follow a "fair and transparent" method for the selection of project consultants and ensure that the agencies involved are technically competent to complete such big infrastructure projects.
The department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Union health ministry in its 111th report on functioning of six new AIIMS (phase-1) under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna said it has been informed that the project consultants appointed by the ministry abandoned the work site and failed to complete the project which has led to delay in the construction.
It said that CAG report has also highlighted the same issue and noted that no action was taken against the defaulting project consultants for abandoning the contracts or for not adhering to its terms.
In 2016, the ministry appointed M/s HLL and M/s HSCC as project consultants for the remaining work on nomination basis at a consultancy fee of 5 per cent of the value of balance work, instead of selecting agencies with better credentials in quality parameters, the committee noted.
"The committee is of the view that the careless selection of the PCs (project consultants) did more harm than good and caused unwarranted delays in the construction activity. The Ministry failed to make a comprehensive assessment of selection of project-consultants/contractors before the execution of the scheme," it said.
The committee chaired by Ram Gopal Yadav also said CAG has raised concerns regarding the award of consultancy work to public sector undertakings or PSUs on nomination basis in its report.
It also notes that M/s HSCC and M/s HLL were appointed as consultants on nomination basis under the garb of Rule 176 of General Financial Rules (GFR) 2005.
It said this rule is always read with the section 1.5.3 that states the selection by direct negotiations or nomination is permissible in terms of Rule 176 of General Financial Rules, 2005 only under exceptional circumstances and such selection may normally be restricted to a financial ceiling of Rs 10 lakh.
The committee notes that the cases did not fall under any of the special circumstances stipulated in the section 1.5.3, it said.
"The committee during the examination of the Demands for Grants has repeatedly seen unprofessionalism and delay in almost all the projects being executed by HSCC," it said.
It pointed out that during the course of its study visit to Guwahati, the committee had a firsthand view of the manner in which improper planning by HSCC had resulted in "major design flaws"," it said. "The committee, therefore, strongly feels that the Ministry should follow a fair and transparent method for the selection of the project consultants and ensure that the agencies involved are technically competent to complete such big infrastructure projects, given the mixed track record of HLL/HSCC in other projects," it added.