MP Rauniyar signed construction contractWhile the Rautahat District Police Office has issued an arrest warrant against Sumit Rauniyar, chairman of Pappu Construction, holding the company responsible for a boat tragedy last month, his father and lawmaker Hari Narayan Rauniyar is found to have signed the contract for construction of the bridge over Lalbakaiya River in Rautahat.
While the Rautahat District Police Office has issued an arrest warrant against Sumit Rauniyar, chairman of Pappu Construction, holding the company responsible for a boat tragedy last month, his father and lawmaker Hari Narayan Rauniyar is found to have signed the contract for construction of the bridge over Lalbakaiya River in Rautahat.
According to the contract paper received by the Post, Rabindra Das, chief of the Division Road Office in Hetauda, and Hari Narayan signed the contract on July 8, 2014.
When the Rs149.32 million deal was inked, the Pappu had promised to complete the project by July 9, 2017. Then-prime minister, the late Sushil Koirala laid the foundation stone for the bridge that will connect Gaur, the Ruatahat district headquarters, with Banjaraha, Auraiya and Mathiya, among other places.
Since Sumit is the current chairman of the construction firm, police issued an arrest warrant against him on September 25, after the families of victims lodged a complaint, blaming the accident on the unfinished construction.
Five people were killed in Rautahat’s Tikuliyaghat village on August 25 when a boat carrying 29 people across the river capsized after hitting the pillar of the bridge under construction.
Even as Sumit chairs the firm, lawmaker Hari Narayan still meets stakeholders in connection with his construction business. He has been visiting government offices for signing contracts and receiving payments. At the Postal Highway Project office, Rauniyar attended the meeting along with his son over the false design of a bridge across the Bagmati river in Rajdevi Municipality of Rautaht.
The lawmaker handed over the company’s reins to his son during the election campaign last year after his rivals used his poor track record in project execution for their campaigns. Every time questions are raised against Pappu Construction, Rauniyar refuses to take the responsibility saying that his son handles the company affairs.
Lawmaker Rauniyar, who was elected to the House of Representatives from Parsa-3, joined the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal in April, 2017. SSF-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav had welcomed him to the party amid a ceremony in Pokhariya, Birgunj.
According to Rautahat District Police chief SP Kedar Dhakal, the arrest warrant was issued as the company owner did not come in contact for an investigation into the bridge delays and the boat accident.
“The Department of Roads is responsible for the contract and the project deadline. We [police] have to investigate the boat capsize and the death of five persons,” SP Dhakal added.
Construction of the bridge at Tikuliyaghat stopped a year ago. Representatives and technicians of the construction firm have been out of sight for long. Instruments left on the site have been rusted as work came to a halt after the pillars were erected.
Pappu Construction has been under the government’s scrutiny for failing to complete a large number of infrastructure projects on time.
According to a Post investigation, of the 41 bridge projects assigned to Pappu and its joint venture partners, the company has missed the deadline on 25 contracts, while progress in all the remaining projects is dismal.
The parliamentary Development Committee has also objected to the inclusion of Hari Narayan in the committee. The Lower House regulation denies lawmakers a place on a committee if they have a conflict of interest.
Rabindra Das, then-chief of the Division Road Office, acknowledged that he and Rauniyar had signed the contract document for the Lalbakaiya bridge project.