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One eye on contract, other on high court

Five construction companies, including HCC, attended a meeting convened by the government on Monday to brief prospective bidders on the Parama-Park Circus flyover ahead of a re-tender process that hit a legal hurdle last week.

Calcutta High Court is scheduled to hear on Wednesday a petition filed by HCC against the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority’s decision to terminate its original contract last December over a cost-escalation claim.

The Mumbai-based company had bid for the project again in January but didn’t get the contract despite its quote being the lower among two contenders, the petition states.

The state government is likely to request the court to allow it to proceed with the re-tender process despite HCC’s plea not to allow work to resume until the case is settled.

Justice Dipankar Datta had told lawyers representing both sides last Friday that the flyover, already delayed by 18 months, should be ready by the end of the year. “Please see that we are able to drive our vehicles on the flyover by the year-end,” he said.

At Monday’s meeting, government officials tried to convince representatives of the five prospective bidders — including L&T, Gammon and ITD Cementation — that cost overrun because of delay would be taken into consideration while awarding the contract. The team also explained the method of calculating cost overrun in accordance with RBI guidelines.

The companies were informed that the government had decided to set aside around Rs 30 crore out of the projected cost of Rs 260 crore for diverting underground utilities along the project site.

“This is not a greenfield project; it is one right in the middle of the city. The companies were told that there could be problems, but the government would provide the necessary support to ensure there is no hitch,” said a senior official of RITES, the consulting arm of the railways that is overseeing the project.

“The companies were also informed that whoever wins the contract would be responsible for maintaining the newly built part of the flyover and not the entire structure.”

In its petition, HCC has blamed the delay and the subsequent cost escalation on the state government’s inability to hand over some project sites.

HCC had submitted a cost-escalation claim of Rs 229 crore in September 2012. As the authorities dilly-dallied, the project came to a standstill in January 2013.

If completed, the flyover would be Calcutta’s longest at 8.14km.