Contract for Rs 7 crore yields Rs 50 crore, payment still coming, way past 2016 deadline
SRINAGAR: GKW, the Kolkata-based company hired to design and supervise infrastructure projects funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Kashmir, has made riches out of the delay in completion of the Jahangir Chowk-Natipora flyover in Srinagar, construction work on which is still going on, way beyond the 2016 deadline.
The company has made nearly Rs 40 crore as against the Rs 7 crore that it was supposed to earn from the flyover. As per the tendered contract, GKW was to get a fee of Rs 7 crore, including Rs 1.5 crore for contingency and nearly Rs 2 crore for out-of-pocket expenses. The remuneration for experts was to be Rs 4 crore out of the Rs 7 crore. Payments to GKW for the contract have now exceeded Rs 50 crore.
This excess amount was spent, according to the company’s chief in Kashmir, on salaries of employees during two years of delay, part of which was because of the 2014 floods, then the 2016 uprising, and the frequent shutdowns in between.
An RTI filed by Iftikhar Drabu, an engineer who has supervised many infrastructure projects outside Jammu & Kashmir, has revealed that as against a total estimate in the tender of 40 man months of work by Construction Engineers and 40 man months of work by Design Engineers of the Design & Supervision Consultant (DSC), the actual deployment till Jun 19, 2019, was 1,797 and 866 man months, respectively – an increase of 45 and 22 times, respectively.
In financial terms, Drabu said, this means a 32-times increase from the tender amount of Rs 0.62 crores for Construction Engineers and Design Engineers to an actual amount of Rs 19.85 crores.
For the Rs 4 crore outlined for remuneration for experts, the delay should have led to additional expense of Rs 3 crore, raising the cost to Rs 10 crore, much less than the Rs 40 crore paid to the company for the expense. How and why this enhanced money was paid should be a matter of investigation. The Chief Executive officer of J&K Govt’s Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA), Dr Raghav Langer, told Kashmir Reader that he has demobilised the working men of the company, and has so far shown doors to more than 40 of its employees.
“We monitor the day-to-day activates on daily basis now. They send us the work done, and the work undone, and the man power required for it,” he said.
Asked how the company received Rs 40 crore when it was supposed to receive only Rs 10 crores, he said that the decision to extend the timeline was taken by the government, proof of which is available in his office.
“If you have any proof for these allegations, please write it to me. I will get an inquiry done,” he said.
Langer took over ERA a few months ago, when most of the ADB projects were near completion, yet the work force of GKW has remained the same as what it was when it started work in 2013. The human resource of the GKW was supposed to diminish with the amount of work done on projects.
This correspondent asked Langer why the work force of the company has remained the same over the years, even though the projects it was supposed to execute were now over. Langer replied, “Well, that is a point. I will see to it. If I find financial impropriety anywhere, I will write to the government to inquire into it.”