Rohru-Hatkoti road project may go to two firms in re-bidding

There is finally some hope for the much-delayed Theog-Hatkoti-Rohru road - a 80-km World Bank funded project. The Himachal government has decided to go for international re-bidding for the project though on a highly escalated cost - the earlier project cost was pegged at Rs 228 crore.

Earlier this week, the state government received the World Bank's formal approval for termination of contract with the 'defaulted' Chinese firm ó M/s Longijian Road and Bridge Company - which failed to execute the project. The company was eventually told to let got the project ahead of the state Assembly elections following strong criticism on the poor quality of upgradation of the road .

The apple belt, which produces more than 50 per cent of the state's total apples every year, had suffered heavily due to the delay in the work on Theog-Hatkoti-Rohru road. The project awarded to the company in 2007 through international bidding proved a complete wash-out with apple growers in Jubbal-Kotkhai,Rohru and Chopal targeting the state government for the inordinate delay and lack of any progress on the road work

"Against the total project cost of Rs 228 crore, the company could not show progress beyond spending Rs 62 crore. Even the cost escalation during the period, under normal circumstances could not have been more than 30 per cent," Chief Engineer PWD Naresh Sharma said.

Sharma, alongwith his team, is heading for New Delhi next week to hold discussions with the World Bank officials on the revised estimates of the project - now exceeding Rs 300 crore.

Jagdish Sharma, secretary, PWD, said that the work on the project has been split in two parts. "One company will not be able to complete the road project in two years. If two companies are handed over the project, it will facilitate early completion of work. Now, it depends on the World Bank." the PWD secretary said.

By the time the election process in the state is over, the PWD will be able to get the World Bank's nod to re-bidding and may get the work started on the project by March-April next year.

PWD Minister Gulab Singh Thakur said, "This was one of the priority roads but we had a very bad experience with the Chinese company. The work was awarded to the company by the World Bank and later it faced serious visa problems."

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