August 31, 2011

Village Roads are Non Existent

Ranchi, Aug. 29: A Comptroller & Auditor General’s report, tabled in the Assembly today, has pulled up the state for poor implementation of a central government scheme for rural roads, pointing to substandard work, fraudulent payments to unscrupulous contractors and serious financial irregularities.

Only nine per cent of rural habitations were connected with all weather roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) between 2005 and 2010, the five years that saw three chief ministers — Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren — and two spells of President’s rule in Jharkhand.

“Jharkhand completed only 164 roads in order to provide connectivity to 496 habitations against the target of 1,957 rural roads to be constructed for providing connectivity to 5,427 targeted habitations,” the CAG report said, in what will be another black mark in the state’s dismal record of implementing centrally sponsored schemes.

The objective of PMGSY, launched in 2000, was to link hitherto unconnected habitations in rural areas according to specific deadlines. All habitats with a population of 1,000 or more were to be covered in three years (2000-2003), while those with a population of 500 or more by the end of the Tenth Five Year Plan i.e. 2007.

The report has painted a sorry picture of a state where no system of checks and balances seem to work. Contractors submitted fake invoices for buying bitumen, government money was spent in the name of bitumen and false entries were made in logbooks to claim that work was completed.

Specifically, the report pointed out that five contractors, who submitted fake invoices in Chakradharpur, Daltonganj, Deoghar, Gumla, Giridih and Ranchi, were paid Rs 1.07 crore.

Similarly, Rs 2.33 crore was fraudulently paid to contractors as cost of bitumen against submission of inadmissible invoices in Bokaro, Chaibasa, Chakradharpur, Dumka, Deoghar and Giridih.

“Contractors were favoured in realisation of liquidated damages, grant of mobilisation advances and equipment advances. The quality of roads was compromised due to non-rectification of defects repo-rted by the National Quality Monitor/State Quality Monitor as well as doubtful procurement of bitumen,” the report said.

In another instance of fraud, a contractor was paid Rs 68.69 lakh for building a road (2.60km Gangjori More to Barmasia road in Bokaro), which had already been constructed from state funds.

The CAG also detected expenditure to the tune of Rs 96.11 crore on 86 roads without bridges, defeating the very purpose of the scheme to provide all weather connectivity.

These roads were in Bokaro, Chakradharpur, Daltonganj, Deoghar, Dumka, Giridih, Gumla and Ranchi.


August 24, 2011

Bitumen Production up in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan saw its oil bitumen production at 136,930 tonnes in January-July, sources in the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan said.

The production was 9,760 tonnes in January, 9,520 tonnes in February, 18,060 tonnes in March, 25,610 tonnes in April, 26,000 tonnes in May, 22,390 tonnes in June and 25,590 tonnes in July.

Production of petroleum bitumen increased by 14,410 tonnes compared to the same period last year.

It is worthy to note that by the outcomes of 2010 Azerbaijan produced 241,400 tonnes of oil bitumen, a 2.1% increase over 2009.

Rufat Abbasov


August 18, 2011

Fake Bitumen- Beware

HJC leader booked for spurious bitumen

Deepender Deswal, TNN Aug 12, 2011, 06.39am IST
PANIPAT: A unit owned by the Panipat district president of the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) has been found allegedly involved in the manufacturing of spurious bitumen which has been unearthed at the outskirts of Kotpur and Alipura villages located on the borders of the Panipat and Karnal districts.
The police registered a case of fraud against the HJC district president Sanjay Kadian along with five other unit owners identified as Kishori Lal, Ishwar Saini, Krishan Kumar and Subhash Goyal.
The police already arrested a truck driver after raiding five factories in the region. According to the police, the fake bitumen manufacturing units included, ABS Aspatric, Shiva Tar, Jai Ambe Tar and Satyam Tar products.
Source -

August 17, 2011

Special Bitumen

With potholes on the city roads becoming a common scene during every monsoon, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has decided to use a special bitumen, which has strong bonding even during rains, for patchworks.

The decision was taken on learning that the NationalHighways Authority of India (NHAI) uses the same bitumen for its project.

“We were spending a lot on temporary patchworks, using quarry dust and rubble. This was because the bitumen mixing plant generally remained closed during monsoon. A specific temperature is required to be maintained right from the time when bitumen is dispatched from the plant till the time it is laid and leveled. This temperature is not maintained during monsoon,” VMC Commissioner Ashwini Kumar told The Indian Express.

To begin with, a patch of road has been identified where the special bitumen would be used. “I have sanctioned a sum of Rs 75,000 and the material would be procured soon. We would first see how effective it is before using the bitumen in other parts of the city,” he said.

August 3, 2011

Surge in demand for Bitumen in West Africa

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Projects to repair Ivory Coast's roads after years of crisis and neglect will spur a surge in demand for bitumen, sole local producer Smb said, adding that it planned to launch a $21.6 million bond on West Africa's bourse to boost capacity.

Smb is the sole producer of bitumen for roads in West and Central Africa.

"We're going to launch a bond of 10 billion CFA francs on the bourse in the next three months," director general Thomas Camara told Reuters in an interview.

"The aim is to meet Ivorian demand, but also demand in the sub-region."

Ivory Coast is emerging from a decade of political crisis and stalemate, which culminated in a return to civil war this year over an election dispute between former president Laurent Gbagbo and current President Alassane Ouattara.

The crisis deterred investment and created an institutional paralysis that meant little was done to repair infrastructure.

Ouattara has made restoring services his top priority, and projects are underway to upgrade power stations, repair roads, expand the SIR oil refinery and increase oil exploration and boost production offshore.

Camara said that of the 250,000 tonnes of bitumen produced every year in the past decade, only 10,000 tonnes or 5 percent per year was sold in Ivory Coast, despite it being one the region's biggest economies.

In 2011 he expected that to "increase to 25,000 tonnes and to some 30,000 tonnes" next year, with the country making up "20 to 30 percent of its market in the years to come."

With expanding demand elsewhere in West Africa, he said Smb would need to invest at least 20 billion to 30 billion CFA francs in its bitumen refinery in the next few years.

"We're expecting that by 2014 that investment will be complete and we'll be producing between 350,000 and 400,000 tonnes a year," Camara said.

By Loucoumane Coulibaly