Melamchi works yet to resumeThe weeklong obstruction in the Melamchi Water Supply Project works, which started with government officials accusing the contractors of trying to flee the country, has yet to end.
The weeklong obstruction in the Melamchi Water Supply Project works, which started with government officials accusing the contractors of trying to flee the country, has yet to end.
The stalemate has further delayed the project, which could miss the fresh deadline too. The government and the Italian contractor Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC) have been in talks for resolving the dispute which started last Sunday when the authorities apprehended CMC staffers from Kathmandu, suspecting them to be leaving the country and abandoning the project.
While the government has not made public the outcome of the talks and issues on the table, officials say negotiations are going on. “We are discussing the matter with the contractors and other stakeholders. We have not reached a conclusion yet,” Joint-secretary Shankar Prasad Subedi, spokesperson for the Water Supply Ministry, told the Post.
Disruption in the project that is close to completion has dashed the hopes of Kathmandu Valley residents for water from the Melamchi river in Sindhupalchok to be supplied any time soon. The government has said that nearly 95 percent work has been over.
The fresh disruption in the project has been attributed to a financial dispute between the government and the CMC. According to the Italian contractor, the government owes it Rs350 million as decided by the Dispute Adjudication Board (DAB) for the extra works done after the 2015 earthquakes that affected the project.
The government, however, said it did not make the payment as it would challenge the DAB decision. Besides, it had sensed the CMC’s ill-intention of dumping the project anyway even after payment was made as the company has gone bankrupt.
At the Finance Committee of Parliament on Thursday, Water Supply Minister Bina Magar and Secretary Gajendra Kumar Thakur had assured lawmakers that even if the CMC did not resume work, the project would not be affected as the government had frozen a security deposit of Rs2.56 billion, which could be channelised for the project.