Army rejects Indian firm's DPR for fast track

Published On: January 17, 2018 06:45 AM NPT By: Kosh Raj Koirala  | @KoshRKoirala

'Preparation of new DPR won't affect construction work'

KATHMANDU, Jan 17: The Nepal Army (NA) has decided not to purchase the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Kathmandu-Terai/Madhes Expressway prepared by an Indian consortium, citing technical shortcomings and exorbitant price.

NA, which has received a mandate from the government to construct the fast-track road connecting the capital with the plains, decided to prepare a DPR of its own after its negotiations with the Indian consortium failed. The consortium consists of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), Transportation Networks, IL&FS Engineering and Construction, and Suryavir Infrastructure Construction.
Speaking at a news conference organized by NA, Brigadier General Surya Raj Khanal informed that NA is developing its own DPR for the 76.2-kilometer four-lane expressway as their study of the consortium report found that it was not technically feasible.

 "Nepal Army will prepare the DPR  on its own. It will be prepared it within this fiscal year," said Khanal, who is deputy chief of the High-Level Project Implementation Directive Committee (HLIDC) formed by NA to oversee implementation of the project. The HLIDC has representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Physical Infrastructure, and Transport Management. 
NA  had a series of negotiations with the Indian consortium to buy the DPR even though it was not fully implementable. But as the India firm demanded Rs 1 billion, sources said  NA decided not to buy, concluding that they could prepare a better DPR at far less cost. 
Brigadier Khanal said they plan to develop the new DPR after asking the consultants already hired for a detailed engineering survey to do additional studies for the purpose of the DPR. 

"New DPR shall be prepared on the basis of an earlier feasibility study by the Asian Development Bank," Khanal further said. 

The Indian consortium had been given the DPR job as per the decision of the erstwhile government to grant the project to India. The then main opposition  CPN-UML strongly opposed giving the construction work of the national pride project to an Indian firm, and the government-led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal decided in May 2017 to give the army management responsibility for carrying out the project within four years. 

Following the decision to give the project to NA, the Indian consulting firm put forth the condition that their report should be purchased by the army. A cabinet meeting on October 13, 2017, asked NA's Directive Committee to decide whether to purchase the DPR from the Indian firm and negotiate a price. 

The HLIDC formed by NA under the chairmanship of Lieutenant General Purna Chandra Thapa recommended preparing a new DPR as many things suggested by the Indian firm were found not fully implementable. Separately, the government formed a team under infrastructure expert Birendra Bahadur Deuja. to study  the fast track DPR

Although a new DPR will now have to be prepared, NA has said that it will complete the construction work within the four-year deadline. "The preparation of the DPR is a challenge. But the construction work won't be affected at least for a year," Khanal further said. 

NA plans to prepare the new DPR in the next five months. It has already set up five camps at Makkhubesi, Kulekhani, Lendanda, Budune and Bagdev and is currently in the process of setting up five more camps. It has begun cutting down trees that lie along the fast track and acquiring necessary land. It plans to mobilize both national and international construction companies where necessary. 

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