Not May 31, but Dec 31, 2024, a 'Smarter' completion deadline

Panjim Smart City officials say contractors appointed by tendering lowest bid are slow and not using enough manpower
Work on 17 manholes from Old Patto Bridge to Four Pillars.
Work on 17 manholes from Old Patto Bridge to Four Pillars. Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Despite Chief Minister Pramod Sawant desiring the work of the Panjim Smart City to be complete by May 31, 2024, chances of this happening are minimal with officials needing at least a year to get the city smart.

“The Chief Minister asked us to finish work by May 31 but we will require a minimum of a year. Eight and a half kilometers need to be completed in Central Panjim and only one kilometer is ready,” confessed a top-ranking Smart City official at the end of the meeting that was attended by the Chief Minister, Panjim MLA, City Mayor, Chief Secretary and other nodal officers.

Smart City Mission, according to officers present at the meeting with the Chief Minister, which was started in 2016 should have begun work in 2018 but, “could not due to the apathy of the first chief Chowdhury”.

Apart from sewerage and drainage work on this 8.5 kilometres, there includes developing footpaths, creating parking zones, street lighting, signages and landscaping.

“We are trying to get the sewerage part ready by May 31 but are unable to promise this as the contractors who have won by tendering lowest bids are slow. They are not using enough manpower,” disclosed an officer present at the meeting.

Smart City work in progress on road adjacent to 18 June Road.
Smart City work in progress on road adjacent to 18 June Road.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

“Seventy-five per cent of drainage work, that is around six kilometers, has been completed and the pending work is on MG Road and 18 June Road. Once sewerage work is over, the road contractor needs around 45 to 60 days to finish,” disclosed an officer.

From Old Patto Bridge to Four Pillars, 17 manholes are pending. “As per my estimates, the sewerage work should be completed by February 20 and road work should start thereafter but we are not very hopeful of completion by May 31,” expressed a technical officer.

END RESULT: Smart view at end of project.
END RESULT: Smart view at end of project. Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Cement work is going on from Madhuban junction till Sheetal junction near St Inez cemetery and will be completed in time but, “work from Sheetal junction to Taj Vivanta has been bogged down by delays due to slow work of the contractor,” lamented an official.

If Smart City officials were piqued by work being stopped on and off by the government, due to various festivals, last year, the lackadaisical attitude of contractors is ‘unnerving’ them now.    

Work on 17 manholes from Old Patto Bridge to Four Pillars.
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“Work from Sheetal junction to Caculo Mall is slow because sewerage work is not being done by the contractor as per timelines. This happens when we opt for the lowest bidder and it does not guarantee the best contractor,” added the official.

Smart City Mission, according to officers present at the meeting with the Chief Minister, which was started in 2016 should have begun work in 2018 but, “could not due to the apathy of the first chief Chowdhury”.

Work on 17 manholes from Old Patto Bridge to Four Pillars.
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“Work actually started when the government gave charge to IAS officers. It took the first IAS officer a year to streamline procedures and set the ball rolling,” disclosed the officer.

Work, according to officials in the know, actually gained pace in 2022 and the mission deadline is June 2024. “We expect to utilize all the Central funds till June 2024 and use state funds thereafter,” admitted the officer.

Smart City mission officials are optimistic of finishing the mission by December 2024 if, “the present political dispensation which consists of the Chief Minister, Panjim MLA and Mayor continue reviewing the work constantly.”

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