Army seeks consultants to review Fast Track DPR
- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu
Subsequently, the KP Sharma Oli administration made a fresh decision to build the project by mobilising the government’s own resources
Jul 5, 2017-
The Nepalese Army has invited applications from Nepali consultants to review the detailed project report (DPR) for the planned Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track prepared by an Indian consortium which lost the bid to build it. The proposed 76-km expressway will link Kathmandu with Nijgadh in the southern plains. The government has appointed the Nepalese Army to develop the project. According to the notice published on Tuesday, the army is looking for three experts—one geotechnical expert or geologist with experience in slope stability, one bridge engineering design expert and one civil engineer having experience in overview of highway planning and design, road survey and slope stability analysis.
It is not known whether the army will use the DPR prepared by the Indian consortium consisting of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) Transportation Networks, IL&FS Engineering and Construction and Suryavir Infrastructure Construction. “We are yet to decide whether we will purchase the DPR. We will reach an appropriate decision,” said Brigadier General Jhankar Bahadur Kadayat, spokesperson for the Nepalese Army. He refused to provide further details about recent developments in the project. Kadayat even denied that the army was looking for consultants to review the DPR.
A high level committee formed under the vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC) had 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. Last December, the government scrapped the agreement made with the Indian consortium to build the expressway. It decided to hand over the road project to the army in May.
The Indian consortium was named the successful bidder, and in February 2015, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with it to build the expressway. Subsequently, negotiations began between the government and the firm.
However, questions were raised over the intention of the then government led by Sushil Koirala after it decided to offer the potential builder a minimum
revenue guarantee of up to Rs15 billion annually if traffic failed to generate adequate profits. At that time, the government had also proposed to extend a loan to the Indian developer at a subsidized interest rate, drawing criticism from all quarters. Amid the controversy, the Supreme Court issued an interim order in October 2015 against the plan to award the project to the Indian consortium. The project then ground to a halt due to confusion over who would build it. Subsequently, the KP Sharma Oli administration made a fresh decision to build the project by mobilising the government’s own resources. The Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government gave continuity to the plan. A Cabinet decision in December to terminate past agreements and decisions cleared all obstacles for the government to build the project on its own.