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Japan bank firm on deadline

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), which is funding infrastructure development in the city, has ruled out any extension of the September 30 deadline for the completion of three projects.

JBIC country director M. Hataeda on Tuesday reiterated the organisation's stand that if the projects remained incomplete beyond the deadline, the state government would have to bear the cost of the residual work.

The incomplete projects ' being implemented by the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) ' are widening of Canal East Road, broadening of the Maniktala crossing and dereservation of the tram tracks on Rashbehari Avenue and APC Road.

Work on the roads below some of the recently-completed flyovers also remains incomplete. The cost of these projects totals around Rs 25 crore.

HRBC has officially expressed optimism about completing the projects on time, but officials working on them are not so certain.

'It's monsoon now and our engineers are doubtful about meeting the deadline,' admitted an HRBC official.

The Japan bank had communicated the deadline to the government in a letter in April. It also stated that if the projects remained incomplete after September 30, the government would have to mobilise funds on its own to finish them. On Tuesday, after an inspection of the project sites, Hataeda reminded the government of the bank's stand.

'The bank has told us that we will have to finish work at any cost by September 30,' said HRBC vice-chairman Sadhan Banerjee. 'The monsoon has set in, the conditions are adverse, but work is going on in full swing and we shall try to meet the deadline.'

State transport minister Subhas Chakraborty echoed Banerjee: 'The odds are piled against us, but we have asked our engineers to keep the deadline in mind and work accordingly.'

HRBC officials said they hoped they would be spared the embarrassment faced during the construction of the Park Street flyover ' the implementing agency had to twice approach the bank for extension of the deadline.

JBIC officials also visited Writers' Buildings and met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya to discuss future projects. Officials said the chief minister requested the bank to fully fund the Rs 5,400-crore East-West Metro project, shelved as the government is unable to pay its share of the project funds (Rs 2,400 crore).

The bank officials, it is learnt, made no commitment, though they indicated that they were interested in infrastructure development in the transport sector.

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