Mehatpur-Una-Amb road 15 months behind schedule & Theog-Kotkhai-Rohru road 2 years behind schedule
Shimla: While India is troubled with China over issuing stabled visas to Kashmiri residents, a Chinese construction company here is on the verge of defaulting over executing two prestigious World Bank funded road construction contracts because of Chinese engineers not having been issued work visas by India.
â€œIn order to protect our reputation and even though we are running up losses, we want to complete the contracts,â€ says Yuan, project manager with Chinese government backed Longjian Road and Bridge Company, that is executing the job.
With just 18 percent of the target completed on widening and strengthening of 45 Km Mehatpur-Una-Amb road and 10 percent job done on the 80 Km Theog-Kotkhai-Rohru road, and the contract timeline due to end in Nov, 2010 and May 2011, the company is desperately seeking time extensions with 15 percent cost escalations.
Part of a Rs 1365 crore World Bank Funded Himachal Pradesh State Road Projects, these two contracts worth Rs 356 crore were awarded through international competitive bidding in May-June, 2008 and had a 30 and 36 month construction period.
Yuan says, â€œwe require at least 15 months more for completing the first road and 24 months extra for completing the second road.â€
Short of manpower and working with on 11 Chinese engineers, he adds â€œat least 100 Chinese workers are needed for executing projects of this size.â€
Having drawn a lot of flak for the bad road conditions, especially for the Theog-Kotkhai-Rohru road, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal at a review meeting on Wednesday asked for speeding up the construction work.
Running through a major apple producing area, orchard owners from Kotkhai-Rohru have laid the blame on the government for the losses incurred in the recent harvest because of road construction activity having hindered movement of packaging material and marketing of the regions sole cash crop. Dhumal directed the public works department to complete the road on priority.
Project schedules began to lag soon after the Indian government revoked working visas for Chinese workers in Sept 2009. Two months later only 11 work permits were issued.
Other reasons for delays, project manager cites â€œthe sites are not free of problems like land acquisitions, removal of electricity and water supply lines and compensations having been paid wherever they need to be.â€
â€œEven after having invested Rs 17 crore on new equipments, progress has been slow,â€ he said, â€œbecause during work time traffic has to be allowed on these roads, which reduces efficiency by as much as 50 percent.
During the heavy rainy season, work had to be stopped on the Kotkhai-Rohru road for allowing timely movement of heavy vehicles involved in marketing operations of apple crop, said Yuan.