Construction of the proposed Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track is likely to be delayed as the Nepal Army, the government appointed builder, remains undecided over buying the highway’s detailed project report (DPR) which was prepared by an Indian consultant. The planned 76-km expressway will link Kathmandu with Nijgadh in the southern plains.
Multiple sources have said the army is not likely to purchase the DPR from the Indian consortium consisting of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) Transportation Networks, IL&FS Engineering and Construction and Suryavir Infrastructure Construction.
Last October, the government gave the go-ahead to an army-led committee to begin negotiations with the Indian consortium, but the army has shown little interest in buying the DPR. “The army is not interested in purchasing the DPR as it has been prepared very superficially, and it will be almost impossible to execute the project by following it,” said a source at the National Planning Commission (NPC). “It is necessary to do a further detailed design.” However, the government might have to pay for the report even if the army doesn’t want it since the DPR has already been approved by the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport.
Meanwhile, the Indian consortium has indicated that it will seek legal recourse to recover the cost of preparing the DPR if the army decides against purchasing it. “We prepared the DPR as per the terms of reference signed with the ministry, and it was approved by the ministry,” said a source close to the Indian consortium. “If we don’t get the IRs380 million that we spent to prepare the DPR, we will have to go to court to recover our money.”
Several weeks ago, representatives of the Indian consortium had visited Nepal and discussed the DPR with army officials. “We had a meeting with army officials where we clearly explained the costs incurred during the preparation of the DPR,” said the source. “But we didn’t get any concrete answer from them.”
The Nepal Army said that it would not negotiate with the Indian consortium and that it was the duty of the committee formed by the government to do so. “The separate committee which includes representatives of the NPC, ministries of Physical Infrastructure, Finance and Law and the army will undertake the negotiations,” said Nayan Raj Dahal, spokesperson for the army. The Indian consortium had originally been appointed to build the expressway, but the government scrapped the agreement last December following widespread criticism.
A high level committee formed under the vice-chairman of the NPC had then suggested to the government to build the project itself using the DPR prepared by the Indian company to save time and expense. The committee submitted its report to the government last February. The government eventually decided to hand over the project to the army in May.
From The Kathmandu Post