Valley

Government ready to bring Italian builder back for Melamchi, minister says

- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Feb 23, 2019-

Water Supply Minister Bina Magar has said that the government would welcome the Italian builder of the Melamchi Water Supply Project if it agreed to follow the due procedure.

Speaking in Parliament on Friday, Magar said that her ministry had kept the option of bringing back the Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC) open to complete the project.

The national pride project is currently stalled after the government terminated the contract with the CMC on February 7 following a series of failed negotiations to bring the builder back.

“Since the ongoing dispute around the Melamchi project started, we have tried our best to resolve the matter immediately. The government would have no problem bringing back the CMC if it followed the procedure and act as per the contract,” the minister told lawmakers.

Parliamentarians lambasted the minister for not handling the Melamchi dispute properly, which has only delayed the project. Lawmakers asked the minister when exactly the residents of Kathmandu Valley would get to consume water from the Melamchi river in Sidhupalchok.

Lawmaker Rajendra Kumar KC criticised the government for not supplying the water to the Valley residents within the given deadline. The people should know the reasons why the CMC left the project in the first place, he demanded.

Addressing the concerns of parliamentarians, Magar said the government had considered two measures for

dealing with the Melamchi dispute so that the decade-old project would be completed at the earliest.

“If the CMC returns, then we can pay the local contractors and complete the remaining works on time. Therefore, we have continued the discussion to bring it back,” added minister Magar.

She however informed the lawmakers that the government was prepared even if the situation of hiring local contractors arises in the event of the CMC not returning.

Lawmakers also questioned the minister for the reason behind transferring secretary Gajendra Kumar Thakur, who had accused her of trying hard to bring back the CMC—a decision that would add massive financial burden to the country.

Sharing the opinion of transferred secretary Thakur, Nepali Congress lawmaker Gagan Thapa said: “In media reports, the secretary charged the minister with paying the CMC extra. The minister had said he demanded a cut from the CMC. One of them is surely wrong. The guilty should be punished.”

Magar, however, said: “My formulae were to get back the CMC, complete the works and deliver water to the Valley residents. He didn’t work as per that plan so he was transferred. I have no knowledge of any financial transactions,” the minister told the federal parliament.

Published: 23-02-2019 09:00

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