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HC nudge for flyover

The high court has reminded the parties to a dispute over the deadlocked Parama flyover that the project had been conceived in public interest.

Justice Dipankar Dutta made the observation on Wednesday while hearing a petition by construction firm HCC, which has challenged the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority’s decision to terminate its original contract last December over a cost-escalation claim.

The Mumbai-based firm had bid for the project again in January but failed to bag the contract despite its quote being the lower among two contenders.

At Wednesday’s hearing, HCC counsel S.K. Kapur pointed out that a clause in the latest tender floated on February 18 by RITES, the consulting arm of the railways that is overseeing the project, was likely to push the expenditure beyond Rs 257 crore, the tender-estimated cost for the remaining work.

The clause Kapur was referring to puts the onus of shifting underground utilities — such as telephone and power cables, and water and gas pipes — on the construction firm. “The CMDA (the implementing agency of the project) must bear the cost of shifting the utilities,” Kapur submitted.

Sources said the first tender, floated in 2009, had said shifting the utilities would be the CMDA’s responsibility.

HCC has in-principle agreed to do the job for Rs 257 crore, but it wants the CMDA to hand over the land required for the construction and bear the cost of the utility shift.

Kapur’s submission followed a statement by government pleader Ashoke Banerjee, informing the court about a written proposal from HCC to do the work at the estimated cost. During the last hearing, the court had asked HCC’s lawyers to send their proposal in writing to Banerjee.

When Kapur raised the issue of utility shift, Justice Dutta asked him about the stretches where the lines were yet to be shifted.

Banerjee then asked the judge whether he would like to know it from an official involved in the work. Ashis Sen, a CMDA engineer present in the courtroom, and Kapur then walked closer to Justice Dutta’s seat and explained to the him the status of the work. After around five minutes, the judge called the government pleader, too.

During the hearing, Justice Dutta reminded both parties that the flyover was being built for “public interest”.

The matter will be heard again on Tuesday.