One highway-many rabbit holes

In which I attempt to decipher information provided on the MAHAPWD site. Continuation of my earlier article- (https://medium.com/@abuavanti/a-highway-runs-through-it-c437432413c4)

reminds me of Andhadhun

Surprisingly the mahapwd site is a non-secure one — basic https not present; be that as may be, this is not a critique of their security — they seem to care two hoots anyway. This note is just to highlight my experience of trying to find out the status of the highway widening project on this site.

So type www.mahapwd.com

Land up on this page — where the various sectors of the highway are mentioned — upon clicking any of them, one is taken to a kind of splash page which informs you of being redirected to a third party site — I assumed here that this will be the chaps who are actually building this out.

About project reveals -

And thats all that one can find here — every link leads to a ‘404- page not found’ error. No mention of cost here.

Important to bring in the July 17 document referred in Part 1 —
Indapur to Wadpale section from km 84/000 to km 108/400
Cost mentioned — Rs.1202.52 crores

Tried cross checking the cost on the Chetak Infra site: got this but no cost details. Significantly the construction was to end in June 2019 as per this screen, however the Project status says “In progress”.

2. Now Mahad

Easiest of the lot — nothing comes up at all. Well this does:

I assume this is the Veer (Wadpale) to Bhogaon Khurd section from km 108/400 to km 148/0 ( as mentioned in the July 17 document) cost shown as Rs. 1598.47 crores

The said document does mention L&T as the contractor — so i hopped across to their site for some info. Found this

Here the cost is shown as Rs 725 crores. Also came across another government site which revealed the cost as some Rs 817 odd crores — take a look:

So once again we are left with 3 figures to contend with — like in the Panvel Indapur stretch.

So we have 725 as per LNT, 817 as per the govt infra website and 1598.47 as per the July 2017 document. What could be the reason for this wide variation— do some figures include the land acquisition costs? If so, why are they not called out separately. Are these cost escalations? Why can’t this information be provided in a transparent manner.

And then suddenly, another rabbit hole led me to this document:

which mentioned the cost of the entire stretch (mentioned in point 1 above and this one) as Rs.1357.49 crores. Now compare this with the amounts mentioned in the July 2017 document for these two stretches— 1202.52+1598.47 which is 2800.99. One more number to reconcile.

Note: I am just trying to reconcile all these cost numbers made by different agencies at different points of time. Nothing adds up, maybe the information to substantiate the same exists and hopefully someone with more resources at their disposal will find it.

3. Kashedi

Link leads to this page

note: same design as the page which opens up in Point 1.
Note: Cost mentioned here is Rs. 441 crore

In the press release it’s important to note that this stretch is targetted to complete around end of 2020 (anyway beyond the “ek saal ke andar commitment made by the minister in his june 2019 speech), not sure of the progress so far.

Cost of this stretch mentioned in the July 2017 document — Rs 745.79 crores

Already commented on the difference, so will not repeat.

4. Khed

note: similar design of page — despite it being a different third party page

Cost mentioned in About project section: Rs 579 crores

Cost mentioned in July 2017 document: Rs 1142.62 crores

5. Chiplun

note: design same as earlier ones

Cost of project is shown as Rs 670 crores vis a vis the July 2017 document which shows it as Rs. 983.14 crores

6. Sangameshwar and Ratnagiri — awarded to same contractor, hence clubbing the two

note: check out the URL — weird
Cost — Rs 592.98 crores
Cost — Rs 826.28 crores

Corresponding numbers in the July 2017 document are Rs 1101.58 crores and Rs 1230.02 crores.

7. Lanja

Lands here — No information about project mentioned

Cost mentioned in July 2017 document is Rs 1244.75. crores

8. Rajapur:

No cost mentioned here. This is the only page that pops up

Cost shown in the July 2017 document is Rs. 904.7 crores. Could not find any other news articles.

9. Kankawli

No cost mentioned

Cost of this section in the July 2017 document is Rs. 1338.13 crores

Summary:
Difference in cost mentioned on the microsites and what has been told to Parliament. As explained earlier, this could possibly be because of land acquisition cost; hopefully some one will raise it in the right forum and have this clarified. Also I hope that in subsequent disclosure this amount is anyways called out separately for better transparency.

Some microsites have broken links in them. In one case the microsite itself has disappeared. Trust the Mahapwd team will get this rectified

Some information like type of machinery is weird, maybe there is some reason for this. Not sure what.

In one case, the team had made an effort to put monthly data (all others had not bothered); just Jan to March 19 then stopped, that terminology could best be understood by a civil engineer. Ideally monthly targets in terms of length of road to be made / actual achievement should be put up for public consumption in easily understadable terms. Technical terms if used should be explained in brief.

Conclusion:
Much needs to be done to improve flow of information to the general public, both in terms of costs involved and the timelines. Having travelled this highway many number of times, I do appreciate what a mammoth challenge this project is. Not happy with some of the excuses being rolled out now. Good planners and executers have to set a realistic time frame and then do everything possible to beat the target.

Also there should be less of the bombast when it comes to communication — simply throwing amounts at the public is not enough. There are enough and more news articles where the stated completion date has moved all the way from mid 2017 to June 2020 now. And the cost has gone from 4–5k crores to 18k crores as well.

The present Minister in charge, Mr Nitin Gadkari is a straight talking person — I hope these two notes reach him. I hope that he takes them in the spirit of constructive criticism. I hope he gets the Maha pwd to get its act together, fix its website and provide the explanation across on the differences in cost. I hope that he also looks at the environmental cost and put in an effort to restore the ecological balance that we have lost.

Last but not the least, I do hope that the opposition is alert to the challenge of keep the government in line with their commitment. The only way they can do is better preparation when questions are answered. Just want to end with these two videos to illustrate this point:

Speech made in March 2015 — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riZtFpjXuto&feature=youtu.be

Watch from 51:51 to 53:32 — where the cost of the entire highway is told to be 4500 to 5000 crores and work expected to be completed in 2 and 1/2 years.

Speech made in June 2019 — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpdxVvs818Y. Same parties on both sides, no attempt made to get to the heart of the matter or ask for clarifications on costs and timelines committed.

I hope.

Oh, just one last thing. If anything this exercise proves the need for a robust, free RTI mechanism. Without it, we might as well pack our bags and retire hurt. The recent move to undermine the independence of the RTI program will need to be resisted, tooth and the proverbial nail.

Again, I hope.

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Maruti Naik

Maruti Naik

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I write to remember. I write to remain honest. I write to leave a bread crumb trail for my daughter. I write to relax. Trying to impress my better half, I write