The state government has decided to cancel its contract with the private company building Calcutta’s longest flyover after one missed deadline and a cost-escalation claim that at least two agencies have independently endorsed.
Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), which was to complete the 8.14km Parama-Park Circus flyover this month, had submitted a cost-escalation estimate of Rs 230 crore more than a year ago. The project has progressed little since.
Sources said the finance department rejected the company’s demand for additional funds 10 days ago after a detailed review of the project.
“The contract will be scrapped and fresh bids invited soon,” urban development minister Firhad Hakim told Metro on Thursday.
Sources in the government said HCC was yet to be officially informed of the decision, a step the company might respond to with a claim for compensation from the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority.
Officials at HCC, which built Mumbai’s spectacular Bandra-Worli Sea Link, declined to comment on the development.
The company’s cost-escalation estimate was based on delays allegedly caused by the state’s failure to give timely possession of stretches of the flyover route from Parama, on the EM Bypass, to Park Circus.
In the first stage of the project, officially said to be “63 per cent complete”, there was a delay in getting police permission to start construction on some stretches. Shifting underground utilities of various agencies was also a hassle, sources said.
Work on the flyover that was originally scheduled to be completed in August 2012 now looks unlikely to start until at least the middle of next year.
“Before inviting fresh bids for the contract, a settlement has to be reached with HCC. The project would surely be delayed further if the company seeks compensation from the CMDA,” an official said.
A bigger challenge would be to find a firm that would quote an amount less than what HCC had sought. “The cost of materials has increased by much in the period when the decision on HCC’s demand for more funds was pending,” the official said.
The urban development department had selected HCC from among six bidders in 2009. Work on the project, a part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, started in 2010 with a budget of Rs 318 crore.
CMDA, the implementing agency, had sanctioned Rs 170 crore by way of cost escalation in January after initially refusing to entertain any claim. But the finance department overrode the approval.
“Cost escalation had been calculated on the basis of work left and the price of materials at that point of time,” a CMDA official said.
In January, the state government appointed a committee headed by the then principal secretary of the PWD for a final evaluation. The committee recommended a survey by an independent consultant and Rites was hired for the task in August. The report by Rites, submitted before Durga Puja, recommended a cost-escalation payout of Rs 260 crore.
“Ten days back, the finance department decided that it was not viable to increase the project cost to that level,” the official said.
Metro had highlighted in October how a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office prompted the Union urban development ministry to seek an explanation from the Bengal government for allowing a 70 per cent increase in the cost of building the flyover.
Larsen & Toubro, which is building a 600-metre stretch of the flyover above Bridge No 4 in Park Circus, has also faced problems. The railways has agreed to cooperate but has yet to give permission for construction over the rail tracks.
Several other infrastructure projects in the city are stuck for various reasons.
Three rallies and the President’s visit will disrupt traffic at the city centre on Friday. Metro prepares a traffic guide for the commuter.
Which events might affect traffic on Friday?
A Trinamul rally at the Red Road-Mayo Road crossing from 1pm. A Left Front rally at Shahid Minar from 5pm. Indian SC-ST Council will pay tribute to Ambedkar at his statue off Red Road at 10am. Cops expect the Trinamul and Left rallies to have a “turnout of about a lakh each”. The President’s convoy will leave RCTC around 1pm for the Assembly and travel
down Red Road.
Which roads will be the worst hit?
CR Avenue, SN Banerjee Road, Strand Road, Queensway, Red Road and JL Nehru Road.
Will traffic be restricted?
Vehicular movement may be restricted on Mayo Road, Red Road, Dufferin Road and JL Nehru Road.
How long will the disruptions last?
Traffic will be worst hit from 11am till the dispersal of LF supporters after 6pm.
Will traffic be diverted?
Mayo Road-bound vehicles may be diverted through Queensway, Kidderpore Road,
Dufferin Road and Outram Road.