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Anil Baijal to be Delhi L-G after Pranab Mukherjee accepts Najeeb Jung’s resignation

President Pranab Mukherjee, on Thursday, accepted the resignation of Najeeb Jung as Delhi Lieutenant Governor. Former Home Secretary, Anil Baijal is slated to replace him as the new administrator of the National Capital Territory, according to India Today TV.

In his career as a bureaucrat, Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, has donned many hats.

A file image of Anil Baijal. News18

A file image of Anil Baijal. News18

He retired from the service in October, 2006 as Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India. While in that ministry, he was instrumental in the designing and roll-out of the  Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) with federal grant equivalent of about Rs 60,000 crore, for improvement of infrastructure and provision of basic services in urban areas of India, according to his profile on IDFC group website, of which he is a non-executive chairman and an independent director. 

He has been the union home secretary in the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The former bureaucrat  has also been the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and had headed key public sector companies like Prasar Bharti and Indian Airlines.

In a sudden move, Jung had submitted his resignation on 22 December, ending a nearly three-and-half-year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with AAP government.

The 65-year-old Jung, a former 1973 batch IAS officer and former vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia University, had assumed charge as Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi on 9 July, 2013.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 16:29 IST

#KolkataFlyoverCollapse: An act of God or an Act of negligence by IVRCL?

IVRCL, the company who was undertaking the flyover project in North Kolkata that collapsed on Thursday morning resulting in the death of at least 24 persons, has a history of poor performance and alleged inefficiency. IVRCL has been blacklisted more than once in the past for reasons pertaining to efficiency issues and financial irregularities.

Kolkata-flyover_380_PTI_10Kolkata-flyover_380_PTI_10

IVRCL was blacklisted in 2015 by the Jharkhand Government. The company was facing charges of alleged financial irregularities in execution of a rural electrification project in Jharkhand.

Also, in 2011, the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam blacklisted IVRCL for being lax in maintaining quality of materials used in drinking water sewage projects in Allahabad and Kanpur.

Not just that. In 2009, IVRCL was facing investigations by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) for causing death of two workers by being negligent towards the working conditions. The report said that the state labour department has recommended that the civic body blacklist the firm.

Struggling financials

A look at the financials shows that IVRCL’s financials were under stress and it has been facing severe liquidity stress.

IVRCL financialsIVRCL financials

Since fiscal year 2012, IVRCL’s net sales dropped nearly 50 percent from a high of Rs 7,557 crore to Rs 3,820 crore in fiscal year 2015. Similarly, the company has been posting losses over the last four financials years with accumulated losses standing at Rs 2,192 crore as at March, 2015.

IVRCL’s debt has surged by 91 percent from Rs 1,725 crore in fiscal year2008 to Rs9,386 crore till the end of March, 2015.

IVRCL’s shares too have taken severe beating on the bourses as investors exited the counter fearing more downward pressure. Its stock has plunged over 15 percent in past two days alone and some 38 per cent this year so far.

From a high of Rs 201 in 2007-08, IVRCL stock has plummeted over 96 percent on account of deteriorating profit levels, ballooning debt, pushing down its market cap by 91 percent from a high of Rs 5,353 crore in FY08 to Rs 466 crore in FY16.

The question

The Kolkata mishap raises several questions. Was necessary due diligence done by the state government while evaluating the ability of the company in undertaking the construction of the Vivekananda flyover being built in one of the busiest areas of Kolkata.

As it appears now, both the state government and the company have distanced themselves from the mishap. The 2.2-km Kolkata Vivekananda Road flyover, funded under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), began in 2008 and the construction of the project got stuck midway several times for financial constraints.

IVRCL too have distanced itself from any wrongdoing. “45% of the work was left. One girder missed and the second one fell. It is nothing but God’s act. This has never happened before; we are also in shock,” business standard has quoted IVRCL’s K P Rao on Friday.

The important question here is this. Did the state government fail to assess the ability and track record of the company, which has been facing severe financial constraints in the past and the has been blacklisted multiple times for reasons of poor performance.

Did 24 innocent lives pay the price of sheer negligence by the state government?

Kolkata flyover collapse: Cops file FIR, seal construction company’s office

Kolkata: The Kolkata police on Thursday sealed the local office of IVRCL, a Hyderabad-based company, which had taken up the construction work a flyover here, a portion of which collapsed on a congested road intersection killing 18 people.

Rescue work in progress as an under-construction flyover collapsed on Vivekananda Road in Kolkata on Thursday. PTI

Rescue work in progress as an under-construction flyover collapsed on Vivekananda Road in Kolkata on Thursday. PTI

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Debasish Boral told reporters that the local office of the company has been sealed and an FIR has been registered under IPC sections 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt cto commit culpable homicide) and 407 (criminal breach of trust by carrier, etc).

A representative of the construction firm, Panduranga Rao, described the accident as an ‘Act of God’. IVRCL was appointed by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) to build the flyover. The firm was unable to ascertain the immediate cause of the collapse, but it said this bridge was the “toughest project of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM) project under the KMDA”.

The company had made it clear on various occasions that the project was a very difficult undertaking due to the congested area of the intersection, which hampered the movement of the heavy equipment used for construction, according to its website.

The Vivekananda flyover has been facing issues since the operations began in December 2009. The construction is years behind schedule and as of March 2016, over 25 percent of the work was still pending,  report in The Times of India said.

The Rs 164-crore project was supposed to be completed by 2012 but issues with land acquisition has delayed its completion. The Times of India report further added that the project that was to be completed by March 2016 was scheduled for August 2016 for completion.

The design has been changed several times and the residents living around the construction even went to court as the flyover was inching dangerously close to their homes.

A 2014 report from The Telegraph said that IVRCL, the company responsible for building the flyover, wanted to wash its hands off the project as it was cash-strapped and running 42 months behind schedule, with only 69 per cent of the work done.

With inputs from PTI

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