SURKHET, Nov 17: Even after taking Rs 1.4 million as an advance in a contract worth Rs 14.2 million, a construction company owned by a mayor in Surkhet district has failed to make any progress in an electricity transmission line project. The project’s completion deadline expired three years ago.
Had the work of laying the transmission line been completed on time, even the remote parts of Surkhet would have had access to electricity by now. It has been about three and a half years since Tarupare Construction Services and Suppliers owned by Mayor of Bangad-Kalanki Municipality, Govinda Pun, won the six-month contract to lay the transmission line in Surkhet, but construction work has not yet started. Due to the delay, not only the rural areas but some wards of the provincial headquarters Birendranagar are also reeling under darkness.
Mayor Pun has already managed to get two deadline extensions. The construction of the project, whose contract was handed to the company on June 29, 2015, has been halted after Pun won the post of mayor in the local elections in 2017.
The company had reached two separate agreements with the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) for the construction of electrical transmission line in the district. Immediately after the agreement, Pun had received a sum of Rs 1.4 million making use of the Advance Payment Guarantee (APG).
According to NEA officials, Pun has remained out of contact with the authority after he was elected as mayor of Bangad-Kalanki Municipality.
“He used to be in touch with us before his election,” an official from the Surkhet office of NEA said, adding, “He started disregarding our orders after he became mayor.”
The NEA has repeatedly asked Pun to come in contact and present the progress report on the project. He, however, has been ignoring the NEA requests.
“We have sent more than 20 requests to him,” chief of Surkhet chapter of NEA Suraj Bhandari said, “He has neither come in contact nor replied to our letters.”
The authority has also tried to contact him through telephone. According to a source from the authority, the mayor has been warning NEA officials of consequences using his political connections.
“We have not been able to take any action even after the head of an entire municipality threatened us in such a way,” an NEA official said.
Pun’s construction company was scheduled to complete the construction work of the electrical transmission line of 12.3 kilometers under package-1 of the agreement and another 17.9 kilometers under package-2. All the construction work should have been completed by December 29, 2015.
Pun has not even visited the construction site after his company received the contract, sources said.
Mayor Pun, however, claimed that he has no information about the developments in the construction since he has already handed the company over to his brother.
“It has already been a year since I handed over the company to my brother Dilli Pun,” he said, “I do not know what has happened of the construction now.”
He refused to share the contact details of his brother with Republica.
He claimed that he was not able to complete the construction works within the six months deadline due to technical issues.
“We could not complete the work on time due to some issues with the NEA and also because of my personal problems,” he said,