Jharkhand government may soon end up paying Rs 3.16 crore from the exchequer to an agency for practically no work.
An arbitrator appointed by Jharkhand High Court has ruled in favour of Operation Research Group (ORG) Pvt. Ltd — which was first selected by Ranchi Municipal Corporation for preparing the city’s sewerage plan and then discarded by the urban development department.
Describing the decision to terminate ORG’s appointment as unilateral, retired chief justice of Kerala High Court U.P. Singh ordered the government to pay Rs 3.61 crore to the agency against bills claimed by it.
Though the arbitrator passed the order on May 30, 2012, the government is yet to clarify if it will bow before the agency or challenge the verdict.
Senior BJP leader Sarayu Roy uploaded a copy of the judgment on his personal website three days ago. The former MLA from Jamshedpur (West) was, however, not available for his comment.
The municipal corporation had selected ORG through a public tender on October 11, 2003, to devise a detailed project report to improve Ranchi’s sewerage and drainage system. The agency was sanctioned 18 months, until April 2005, to perform the task.
The urban development department cancelled ORG’s contract in June 2005 on the grounds that it did not submit the report and its progress was unsatisfactory.
The department floated a new tender and chose engineering consultant Meinhardt.
However, ORG went to court challenging the cancellation of its contract. The high court named an arbitrator with the consent of both parties.
The judge, in his order, noted, “The undisputed fact which arises is that the contract was terminated simply on the direction of the state government, which again admittedly was not party to the contract.”
RMC CEO Dipankar Panda said the civic guardian had no role to play, as the government had to take a decision in response to the order. “I think it’s out of our domain now. The urban development department will be the right platform to seek answers,” he said.
Urban development department secretary Nitin Madan Kulkarni on the other hand said that they had not received any copy of the judgment yet.
“I don’t have any information in this regard,” he stressed.
When told about the contents of the judgment and asked if the state government would make payments or challenge it, he said it was too early to comment.
“Honestly, I cannot say anything because until I go through the order in detail, it is difficult for me to comment,” he added.