Repair costs of expensive but shoddy retaining wall to be footed by project contractor
Madikeri: The 40-ft high and 140-metre wide retaining wall that was built to protect the Kodagu Deputy Commissioner’s Office at Madikeri that gave way at many places due to continuous rains and shoddy works is being repaired again. The contractor, who originally executed the works, is repairing the wall at his own costs as mentioned in the tender.
The wall was constructed at a cost of Rs. 5 crore and the unsuccessful repair works that were carried out earlier cost Rs. 2.5 crore. In all, Rs. 7.5 crore has been spent on the retaining wall till now. In fact, the Kodagu District Administrative Office (DC Office) was built at a cost of Rs. 14.43 crore and it opened in 2014.
The Office is located on a steep gradient along the Madikeri-Mangaluru Road and the retaining wall construction began in June 2021. Due to continuous rains, the contractor had to stop work for a few months. After 75 percent of the works were completed, the problem of seepage occurred and the wall faced the threat of collapse.
Following rains, the Reinforced Earth Wall (RE Wall) dislocated and the entire structure hung precariously on the Madikeri-Mangaluru Road. As slabs bulged out posing a risk of collapse, traffic on the busy road (National Highway 275) was banned and alternative roads were provided.
Sand bags were laid next to the retaining wall up to a height of four metres towards the road to prevent collapse. Though the wall building technology was claimed by the contractor and the PWD engineers as advanced and safe, it has not worked in the district’s weather where it rains for six months a year. The contractor had stated that Japanese technology was used to construct the wall.
Who has to take the blame?
Soon after the issue hit headlines, the Public Works Department (PWD) issued a notice to the construction company and the Delhi-based company that planned and provided technical knowledge for the retaining wall. The notice stipulated that the entire risk of the project would be on the construction company and not on the District Administration.
While the contractor has claimed that excessive rains are to be blamed for the mess, the Delhi-based company has clarified that the suggestions provided by its engineers were ignored by the contractor. A controversy erupted and Madikeri MLA M.P. Appachu Ranjan had written a letter to the PWD Secretary seeking black-listing of the contractor.
Now that the rains have stopped in Kodagu, the contractor is repairing the retaining wall and its slanted portions. After the wall was built, the contractor had filled the space between the ground and the wall with loads of mud. This caused instability and due to the forceful flow of the rainwater seepages occurred due to the pressure created by underground water, said PWD engineers.
Now the dumped mud is being excavated with earth movers and being shifted to an alternative place and a private land is being used to store the excavated mud. After the mud is excavated, the wall will be repaired and given more strength to withstand pressure.
When the next phase of work on the wall is executed, technical experts from Bengaluru, officers from National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and PWD engineers will inspect and the best solution will be implemented, said PWD engineers.