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Twin bids break flyover jinx

Two construction companies have bid for the contract to complete the remaining portion of the Parama-Park Circus flyover in response to a second call after the first one drew a blank.

One of the bidders is HCC, the company that was building the 8.14km flyover until its contract was withdrawn last December over a cost-escalation claim. The second name in the fray is SP Singla Constructions, a Haryana-based company that has built flyovers in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh.

The Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority had been bracing for the possibility of prospective bidders ignoring the second call on January 23. The contract had been first advertised on December 10 but failed to attract a single bidder.

If the second call didn’t elicit a response, Plan B was to float a fresh tender with revised terms and conditions.

Singla and HCC showing interest in the unfinished contract may seem as a breakthrough but it still doesn’t guarantee that work will resume immediately.

End-2015 is the earliest that the flyover will be ready, sources in the CMDA said. The tender notice mentions that the contractor will get 18 months to complete the work.

“We have forwarded the bids to consultancy company RITES. It will study the technical expertise of the two companies and give us an opinion,” said a senior official of CMDA.

The feasibility report on the two bids is expected this week. If the bids are found to be technically feasible, the CMDA’s board and the state government’s finance department will study their financial feasibility.

The project can be awarded to either HCC or Singla only with the finance department’s sanction.

In the event of the bids being found unfeasible, the contract will be put out to tender again. That will delay the project by another 60 days.

Since both bids came in response to a second call, there is no legal bar in choosing one out of just two bidders. “In the first call, the rule book says that at least three bidders have to be in the fray for the contract to be awarded to one. The rules are different if the tender advertisement is published for a second time without any change in the terms and conditions,” the CMDA official said.

Work on the flyover was stalled early last year after HCC demanded an escalation in the project cost, citing the delay in handing over parts of the site for construction.

The unfinished part of the project includes a ramp that will take off near Silver Spring, on the Bypass, and merge with the main arm at the Parama crossing a little distance ahead. Another arm of the flyover from near PC Chandra Gardens, along the road leading to the Ruby rotary, is yet to be built.

Work on the stretch between the No. 4 flyover and the Park Circus seven-point crossing hasn’t even started. An arm of the flyover supposed to run above Congress Exhibition Road and merge with the AJC Bose Road flyover is also still to be built.

Once completed, the Parama-Park Circus flyover will be the city’s longest, reducing the commuting time between east and central Calcutta by more than half.

“It should take hardly 10 minutes to reach Parama Island from Park Circus through the flyover. It takes about 30 minutes now on an average,” a CMDA engineer said.

After RITES submits its opinion on the bidders’ technical expertise, the CMDA intends to convene a meeting of its board to choose one of them. The file will be next sent to the state government’s finance department.

The company that is chosen will be paid according to the “item rate system”. “Under this system, we will follow the PWD rates for concrete construction. The amount of money to be paid for building a certain length of concrete is in accordance with PWD rates. We will see how much work the company does and pay them accordingly,” the engineer said.