Himachal Pradesh is on the verge of economic and
industrial development through huge infrastructure
development projects. Dr. Pritam Chand Kapoor
Principal Secretary - Public Works, Himachal Pradesh
spoke to Dhairya Ingle
about public projects, labour
and land acquisition in the state.
Government entities, PSU's award contracts on L1 basis. Critics say L1
kills quality. Comment.
Generally, orders are awarded on the basis of tenders. The issue of quality is
checked through quality check-ups - it has no relation with lower standards.
Quality is mentioned in tenders - the one who is awarded the contract has to
adhere to it.
While major infrastructure projects need to be implemented to continue
India's economic growth, the epc contactors nationwide urgently need to
build capacity and capability to implement such projects. Comment.
Yes. We have to go ahead with it since this is one of the ways to get things done.
Hence, there is no way out.
Huge investments are expected into development, upgradation of India's
infrastructure. Which are the various infrastructure segments expected to
witness maximum investments?
Road infrastructure has to be upgraded - this will enable fast mobility to the level
of people's expectation. And there are various ways for upgrading it - one of them
is PPP which can be encouraged on a larger scale.
Availability of trained manpower is an issue faced by all epc players
across India. Tell us about the extent of trained manpower shortage in
Himachal's epc segment?
I don’t not agree with you when we talk about Himachal since we have
about 800 engineers in our department who are qualified from reputed
institutions - they are experienced in their respective departments and
the state has adequate manpower.
Although there are some post which get vacant due to various reasons,
but they are filled in due course of time. With regard to availability of
manpower in private sector, especially contractors - there are large
numbers of people in the market and I would suggest that they should
pick up the best available people. And with regards to skilled manpower,
they need to be upgraded as per requirement of the job and trained with
skills like leadership, using latest technologies etc.
Do you think NREGA has led to more acute shortage of labour
especially for contractors?
Yes. People now get employment in their own region and this has reduced
the mobility of labour. Everyone would like to stay with their families - so yes
NREGA has also affected the construction industry. In a way it is good since
the people would not encounter the problems they face staying away from
their families. NREGA has also reduced pressure on metropolitan cities - so
we cannot curse NREGA. How does you administration monitor quality of projects being
implemented across the state?
We have a quality control wing which checks the quality of projects. A large
number of reports are made on the material's quality. We have now asked them
to put the inspection report and photographs of projects in the report - so we get
a proper idea of how things go.
What is the long term vision of your administration and do you have a
roadmap to achieve it?
Infrastructure development especially in respect of road developments is under
the PWD - but in future we may have to go for a different mode. We are planning
to enter into Public Private Partnership. Lastly, we have to change since things
have to get more professionalized and suited to meet the needs of the public.
Land acquisition has been a major hurdle in road & highway development
across India. How can this problem be tackled?
Land acquisition is the biggest problem right now. The people have to be
suitably compensated. Also the Land Acquisition Act is very old - It was
made in 1894 and remains unchanged. It does not have a component of
resettlement. I feel that the people should be made a stakeholder in the
project. The people should get compensated on negotiated rate. Why should
anyone bear the loss? This will even decrease delays in projects.