PANAJI: The financial crunch faced by the state government has led to the major developmental projects in the state either being stalled or work on the projects proceeding at a snail’s pace, as bills of contractors are not being paid and payments postponed more than once.
Government sources told this daily that in a major setback to the water supply project in North Goa, the work on the new Opa water treatment plant has been suspended by the contractor. Once completed, the plant would relieve the capital city of Panaji of its water woes.
The work on the 27 MLD (million litres per day) Opa plant had commenced in 2014 with ex-chief minister and present Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar laying the foundation stone on March 2. Sources said that the plant is due to be completed in December 2016. However, the financial crunch faced by the government has led to a lapse of the deadline and currently the work stands suspended. “The contractor has withdrawn all his machinery and equipment from the site, suspending the work,” the source added.
The work of the Opa water treatment plant was being carried out under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The contract was awarded to Gharpure Engineering and Construction Private Limited from Pune in Maharashtra. While details of the pending amount could not be ascertained, the Opa project is being undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs 75 crore.
The source further said that bills of the public works department (PWD) to the tune of more than Rs 150 crore were not sanctioned in March and bills of more than Rs 50 crore would add up this month.
Speaking to this daily, some of the contractors stated that the non-payment of dues is one of the major issues in the progress of the projects.
The Miramar-Dona Paula stretch of road too has been delayed several times due to the issue of bill payment. Prasad Rao, Managing Director of M Venkata Rao Infra Projects Private Limited, which is working on the project, said that delayed payments is a issue affecting almost every contractor and not restricted to the concrete road project in the capital city. However, he said that the Miramar-Dona Paula road was delayed due to the laying of sewerage pipeline and not due to the concrete structure. “The sewage pipeline is being laid six metres deep and the work has taken a lot of time,” he said.
The concrete road is expected to be completed before the onset of monsoon, as the PWD is on the verge of completing the sewerage pipeline with only a small portion of the work remaining to be completed. Rao said that the process of laying the concrete layer will be completed by June.
Sources said that the progress on important projects including the Miramar-Dona Paula road, Khandepar bridge, Talpana-Galgibag bridge and the link road between Loutolim and Verna has been at a snail’s pace as the contractors find it difficult to maintain the financial balance due to the non-payment of bills.