Thiruvananthapuram: Even as the dust raised by the Palarivattom Bridge fiasco was settling, another similar structure that was under construction collapsed recently at Koolimadu in Kozhikode district.
The recurring poor construction projects have embarrassed the Public Works Department (PWD) to no end.
In order to guarantee the quality of the public works undertaken by the contractors, the Department decided to clear their invoices only after having received quality certificates.
In a circular, the chief engineer of the PWD (administration) directed officials that invoices should not be approved or any recommendations made until the contractor produced the certificate.
The executive engineer could stop the work in progress if it turns out that it does not meet the standards. The circular also said that even invoices should be prepared after ensuring their quality.
Criticizing officials for failing to meet the standards set out in the PWD manual, the chief engineer warned to take strict action against those who violate the guidelines.
Three different tests
The manual mandated three different lab tests to ensure the quality of the work. The first test must be carried out by the contractor. If the cost of the project is more than Rs 2 crore, the contractor has to install the laboratory at the construction site itself. The company, which won the contract, must ensure that the laboratory has been set up.
If the cost of the project is less than Rs 2 crore, the test could be done at any recognized laboratory.
It is the responsibility of the PWD to perform the second test. If the test reveals a defect, a third test must be carried out by an external laboratory. If concrete is tested, the third test should be done within a week and samples for both tests should be collected together.
The supervisor and the assistant engineer are responsible for recording the result of the first test in the register. The assistant executive engineer should oversee the process, in addition to ensuring that the test was performed by a recognized laboratory. The result of the first test must be included when samples are sent for the second test.
No certificate required for projects under Rs 15 lakh
Quality certificates are not required for works for which the assistant executive engineer could give technical approval. The Deputy Executive Engineer could approve projects costing up to Rs 15 lakh.
However, if the estimate is more than Rs 15 lakh, the work should pass the first test to pass the bills. If samples of related work have been collected for the second test, the invoice will not be cleared until its result is received.