House panel asks government to explore options for Melamchi

  • No problem in hiring local sub-contractor if Italian firm doesn’t return to resume work

Jan 25, 2019-

The National Concern and Coordination Committee of the Upper House has directed the government to expedite work on the Melamchi project by looking for alternative options immediately if the ongoing confusion surrounding the national pride project lingers on for a long time. 

The parliamentary committee meeting on Thursday asked the government to sort out the uncertainty over the Melamchi Water Supply Project, which has made no progress since the dispute surfaced between the main contractor and the government over financial issues in the third week of the December. 

The government is still waiting for a response from the Italian contractor, Cooperative Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC), after its staffers returned home to celebrate Christmas and New Year last month. 

Following a long delay in their response and uncertainty over their return to resume work, the government on January 20 wrote a letter to the contractor, a letter of project termination to Italians on January 20. 

The committee has asked the government authority to move ahead by scrapping the contract with the CMC if it does not wish to resume work at the earliest.  “The committee has asked the Ministry of Water Supply to resolve the ongoing stalemate soon, telling them not to wait for the CMC if they don’t want to come back,” Tribikram Parajuli, under-secretary with the committee, told the Post. 

According to Parajuli, the government officials present at the meeting were instructed to complete the project as soon as possible even if it means going for other options, including hiring a new contractor. 

Considering the time-consuming process for hiring a new contractor via the global tender, the committee has asked the ministry to rope in a local contractor by making arrangements in the existing legislations to complete the remaining work in a hassle-free manner. 

“The hiring of a new contractor through usual process is likely to take months. Therefore, the committee has directed the government to rope in a contractor from within the country to complete the remaining work,” Parajuli said. 

The committee decision to hire a local sub-contractor has hinted the possibility of handing over the project to Nepal Army, which was earlier reported by the Post on Wednesday. 

Multiple sources at the ministry, who spoke to the Post on Wednesday, signalled that the government authority was considering assigning the Nepal Army with the remaining works of the Melamchi project, which is near completion.

According to the sources, the ministry is planning to send a proposal to the Cabinet after February 3, the date when the contract with the Italian contractor is officially terminated. 

As the project has been pushed into further uncertainty after the CMC team has not openly expressed its intention about completing the project, the main donor of the project Asian Development Bank, in consultation meeting with the Melamchi Water Supply Development Board, has also started exploring options like hiring a local contractor to complete the project. 

During the meeting, Secretary at the ministry Gajendra Kumar Thakur also assured the committee members that the government could complete the remaining work even with the local contractors and said the government plans to do so in breaking down the project in four sections. The committee also called on the agencies concerned to move ahead with maintaining inter-agency cooperation and regular discussion.

Published: 25-01-2019 07:12

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