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18-month deadline for costly corridor

- Tender trouble: one flyover to three tram depots

The state government has floated a fresh tender to build the unfinished portions of the Parama-Park Circus flyover and set an 18-month deadline for the city’s longest aerial corridor that was once supposed to be ready in August 2012.

The new tender puts the estimate price for the remaining work at Rs 260 crore, Rs 31 crore more than what the previous contractor, HCC, had demanded citing cost overruns.

Sources said the contract with HCC was terminated to save the government from embarrassment and possible charges of wrongdoing. A complaint has already been lodged at the Prime Minister’s Office against a senior IAS officer for allowing a part of the escalation demanded by HCC, allegedly flouting clauses in the last contract that ruled out any scope for price escalation.

“We have floated a new tender. The estimate cost for the remaining work is Rs 260 crore. We want to complete this flyover as quickly as possible,” said Firhad Hakim, the urban development minister. The decision to float the fresh tender was taken at a meeting at the office of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) on Tuesday.

“We had to cancel the contract with HCC as the tender did not have any clause for price escalation,” said Hakim.

The arms on the eastern end of the 8.14km flyover take off from near Silver Spring and in front of Science City. On the west, one arm ends at the Park Circus seven-point crossing while another merges with the AJC Bose Road flyover.

It takes about 40 minutes to cover the length now at peak hours. Once the flyover is complete, the length can be covered in 10 minutes.

Selecting a new builder could take almost three months. The 18-month deadline will be counted from then. That means, the earliest the flyover, already running 16 months behind schedule, can finish is September 2015.

HCC had first submitted a demand for an escalation of Rs 229 crore in September 2012. The CMDA initially refused to entertain any claim, but eventually approved an escalation of Rs 169 crore in January 2013. The matter was then referred to a committee headed by the principal secretary of public works department. This committee said the remaining work needed Rs 201 crore, but advised that an independent consultant be hired to calculate the escalation.

Rites, a railways subsidiary, then submitted its report in October and recommended that Rs 260 crore was needed to finish the remaining work. The fresh tender has quoted this as the estimate price.

Sources said the state government wasted precious time — 14 months — to decide on HCC’s cost escalation appeal. “The prices of all items required for construction have increased since then. Had the decision been taken earlier, the state government would have spent less to complete the work,” an official said.

The new contractor may quote less or more than Rs 260. Only a small portion of this will come from the central government. “It will be about Rs 31 crore, the remaining portion of central funds approved in 2009 were not disbursed,” said an official of the CMDA.

The rest of the money — around Rs 230 crore — will have to borne by the state government that is reeling under a severe cash crunch.

work pending

  • The stretch from in front of Silver Spring to Parama Island
  • From Bridge No. 4 at the Darga Road crossing to the Park Circus seven-point crossing.
  • From in front of Topsia police station to the AJC Bose Road flyover