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Underpass Building Contract Handed Under The Table? AUDA’s Role Questionable

| Updated: March 14, 2023 15:01

Flyovers failing the test of durability, roads developing cracks, tenders put on hold while infrastructure projects worth crores bypassing the mandatory bidding process. Such repeated lapses question the complicit role of Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). Another recent case in point is handing over of construction of an underpass beneath the Rs 135.7 crore flyover over Rajasthan Circle on SP Ring Road 

The contractor was given the flyover project in March 2021. This was in accordance with competitive bidding. However, a year later in April 2022, the same contractor was handed over work of building an underpass for an additional Rs 50 crore. This time, without the mandatory bidding process.

Incidentally, Ajay Engineering Infra Pvt Ltd, is the same contractor accused of irregularities in the building of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj flyover at Hatkeshwar. The concrete of the Hatkeshwar flyover according to five NABL-certified laboratories was “porous” and had just 20% of the strength prescribed.

“The Hatkeshwar flyover is the only flyover in AMC’s history which has been closed to traffic just five years after it was built,” shared another bidder for the same contract. 

Initially, when Roads and Building Department and AUDA collaborated on the flyover, a tender with a cap of Rs 153.76 crore was floated. The lowest bid was Rs 170 crore and the tender was be scrapped.

The work was again tendered. Ajay Engineering Infra Pvt Ltd bid Rs 135.7 crore in 2019 and won the contract. While construction work was midway, in April 2022, the state R&B department asked its consultant, HCP, to prepare a layout report on the need for an underpass below the flyover because of increasing traffic at the junction.

However, when the flyover design was assigned, was AUDA not aware that they would need an underpass? What prompted the wait for a year to suggest an underpass?

“After the project management consultant (PMC) came up with a cost estimate of an additional Rs 50 crore for the underpass, AUDA volunteered to bear the cost. Thus, the total project cost rose to Rs 185.7 crore. Through a resolution passed by the AUDA board, the underpass work was given to Ajay Engineering Pvt Ltd, bypassing the bidding process,” confirmed an AUDA insider, on conditions of anonymity.

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