STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 13th May:
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Manipur have agreed in principle to sign a deal under which the former will invest nearly Rs 1000 crore ($ 150 mn) for development of the Imphal-Moreh section of National Highway-2 (Asian Highway-1).
Interacting with a group of editors of state dailies on Sunday, ADB India chief Kenichi Yokoyama said that ABD, which has been funding various major projects in India, with special emphasis in the north-eastern states, has earmarked $ 150 million package for upgrading the Imphal-Moreh stretch of the highway to an international standard road.
Kenichi, who arrived here on Saturday to oversee prospects of projects that the ADB would be investing, confided that the detailed project report (DPR) of the said road development plan has already been prepared and the formal deal will be signed soon.
Along with informing that his other purpose of visiting Manipur is to assess progress of projects being implemented in the state with ADB funding, the ADB India chief conceded that during spot inspection of project sites he found no flaw in the project management system.
Kenichi, nevertheless, noted with regret that inordinate delay on the part of the state government to ensure timely release of fund to the work agencies has been impeding work progress of some projects.
Further stating that he had conveyed ADB’s concerns over delay in release of fund that the bank had already provided to the government and consequent impact on the project works when he met chief minister N Biren and chief secretary Dr Suresh Babu on Saturday, Kenichi expressed satisfaction that the chief minister assured to take up appropriate steps to clear all bureaucratic hurdles for prompt clearance of the funds.
While confiding that he was taken aback to learn that contractors/work agencies executing on-going projects are not being paid for over six months, he explained that under ADB as well as project norms, bills should be released to work agencies within 45 days of receiving completion report.
As the current practice of bill clearance is at the rate of 140 days of phase-wise completion of projects, some contractors are mulling to terminate the contract terms in addition to serving show cause notice for recovery of Rs 5.02 crore as financing charge, Kenichi revealed.
On-going ADB funded projects in Manipur include Rs 114.69 crore Tupul-Bishnupur road project, construction of Thoubal-Kasom Khullen road stretch at Rs 95.01 crore and Rs 1437.44 crore road construction work on the Imphal-Kangchup-Tamenglong sector.
It is informed that administrative approval for the Thoubal-Kasom Khullen project was cleared by the Union government on September 23, 2011.
Contrary to the earlier fund size, project estimate when calculated on the basis of contract cost spiralled up to Rs 475.68 crore consequently leading to submission of the revised estimate for approval by the DoNER ministry. The ministry reportedly deliberated over the revised estimate on May 1 while the second meeting on the same matter was held on May 10.
With regard to the Imphal-Kangchup-Tamenglong road, the Central government would be funding 90 per cent of the cost sourced from the ADB while the remaining percentage would be borne by the state.
Though the project was assigned to a firm on March 21, 2016 actual work could commence only from August due to inclement weather. Till date 6.29 per cent of the total project fund has been released/exhausted.
Out of the state’s financial liability of Rs 194.70 crore, a collective amount of 21.10 crore has been utilised for preparation of DPR, compensation for clearance of forest land and other project components.
Kenichi also pointed out that the state government will have to spend an amount of Rs 57.45 crore for payment as land compensation and resettlement of families affected by the project.
As per the agreement reached with the ADB for the three road development projects, fund released by the bank should be transferred to the ‘project’ account within 30 days. Till 2017, the Central government had released Rs 90.477 crore out of which the government of Manipur is yet to transfer Rs 71.24 crore in to specified ‘project’ account, the source said, adding that the account transfer process should be completed within a week of being released.
Referring to reports received by the ADB, Kenichi said that camp office set up to monitor project activities came under a bomb attack on September 16, 2017 while there were two instances of abduction of project personnel, the latest being on January 29 this year.