Unhappy over a 'delayed' work culture in NHAI, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday ripped apart top officials of the National Highways Authority of India over their attitude and said it was time to show exit door to 'non-performing assets' complicating and delaying projects by creating obstacles.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has become a breeding ground for inefficient officials who are creating hurdles and referring every matter to committees and it was time to 'suspend' and 'terminate' them and bring in reforms in its functioning, the Road Transport, Highways and MSME Minister said.
He was addressing a virtual gathering during the inauguration of NHAI building at Dwarka which took about nine years to complete. "Non-performing assets (NPAs) not worth of doing even vermiculture are preserved here and being promoted... I feel ashamed at the attitude of such officials who are carrying such legacies...
"They are delaying decisions and creating complications and at the helm, these are CGMs (Chief General Managers) and GMs (General Managers) sitting for years," Gadkari said while expressing his unhappiness over the delay in construction of NHAI building. He said the building project for which tender was awarded in 2011, took almost nine years to complete and saw seven NHAI chairmen and two governments.
"Finally it could be completed during the tenure of the eighth Chairman (SS Sandhu) ...A research paper should be prepared on this classic case of delay with photographs of CGMs and GMs who were behind the delays...There should be a ceremony to make their names and photos public like the ministry does to facilitate those who do exceptionally good work," the minister said. Gadkari said he has been emphasising on widespread reforms in NHAI but of no avail and said when mammoth work for Rs 1 lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is planned to be executed within three years, how could a single building take about ten years in completion.
"I feel ashamed...I had personally conducted three-four meetings for it...I have been insisting on reforms...Now as the tradition is, records will be prepared to blame the contractors alone," the minister said and warned officials to mend their ways. The minister wondered as to why the Authority was not able to retain engineers from IITs and other institutes and why those "who were not even fit to work for states were being promoted and their "wrong decisions" were costing the exchequer heavily.
Warning the officials to change their work pattern, Gadkari said he would personally oversee termination, suspension and removal of guilty officials. Gadkari has been stressing on the need to expedite decision-making by NHAI and ministry officials while cautioning that non-performers would be given compulsory retirement.
The minister had earlier this year said that he had sought a list of non-performing officials for showing the exit door. He had warned "non-performing" officials or "dead assets" who neither take decisions nor allow others to work of showing exit door while saying that red-tapism will not be tolerated.
NHAI's new building has been constructed over a 6,086 square meter plot in Dwarka area, adjacent to NHAI's existing office complex. It has ground plus seven stories, with two levels of basement.
NHAI plans to shift around 400 of its employees to the new building, which is equipped with latest building management system, computer automation and state-of-the-art facilities for enhanced work performance. NHAI has been mandated the task to develop, maintain and manage National Highways, the arterial roads of the country, for inter-state movement of passengers and goods.