Print Edition - 2015-02-02 | MONEY
Almost every project reporting problems
- National pride projects
Feb 1, 2015-Almost every National Pride Project has been encountering problems despite receiving the highest priority from the government. Most of their troubles are related to land acquisition, delays in cutting down trees in forest areas, shortage of construction materials, poor monitoring of the performance of contractors and lack of technical manpower.
Among the 15 National Pride Projects whose progress reports were submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office recently, there were few that did not report time overruns due to one difficulty or the other. A total of 21 National Pride Projects are currently being implemented in the country. They have been allocated a budget of Rs 25 billion for this fiscal year.
Among them, only Gautam Buddha Regional Internatio-nal Airport being built in Bhairahawa and Pokhara Regional International Airpo-rt being built in Pokhara have reported 100 percent progress.
Despite the impressive progress report of the airport project in Pokhara, it is also facing land acquisition problems. Vandals also attacked the office of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) in Pokhara recently. As per the progress report of Melamchi Water Supply Project, the contractor has failed to carry out the construction work as per the target.
Ghanashyam Bhattarai, executive director of the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board, said that the Italian contractor CMC Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna had completed 720 metres of the tunnel in January. Bhattarai said that the tunnel boring work was being slowed down by the weak rock structure at the construction site. “Despite that, we have asked the contractor to dig 800 metres in February,” said Bhattarai.
According to the Melamchi project, the tunnel digging work should progress at a rate of 42 metres per day in order to meet the construction deadline of April 2016.
However, the contractor dug just 24 metres in January. The project also faces storage problems for construction materials and is vulnerable to supply obstructions.
Likewise, the three north-south highway projects have been hampered by lack of technical manpower with the Karnali North-South Highway also facing land acquisition problems. The East-West Electric Railway has been delayed by land acquisition problems and lack of technical manpower. “Currently, the entire Physical Infrastructure Ministry is suffering from a shortage of technical manpower and this has been reflected in major road projects,” said Secretary Tulasi Prasad Sitaula. “We have long been following a policy of obtaining technical manpower from the market, but it has not been forthcoming.”
Similarly, the Postal Highway project, which has submitted one of the worst progress reports, has ground to a halt after its Indian contractors fled.
Beside contractor-related problems, it is also suffering from difficulties like lack of staff, shortage of construction materials and delay in tree cutting. Regarding the Fast Track project, the government is currently negotiating with a consortium of IL & FS Transportation Network, IL & FS Engineering & Construction and Suryavir Infrastructure Construction for a possible handover of the project’s development to it.
The Mid-Hill Highway project has encountered problems of low bidding for different sections of the road beside obstructions in the forest area. The programme approval of the Pashupati Area Development Trust has been delayed and its progress has been reported as being zero.
The Gautam Buddha airport project has been making smooth progress. Its construction was inaugurated two weeks ago by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala who laid the foundation stone.
The Shikta Irrigation Project, another ambitious undertaking, is also facing problems like obstruction to extracting sand and aggregate from the nearby national park area.
Published: 02-02-2015 09:38