After Insurance, Govt calls off Pakal Dul talks with AFCONS

Fresh tenders to be floated for works
Guv had raised red flag over Rs 100 cr deal

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Oct 30: Just couple of days after scrapping Government Employees Group Medical Insurance Scheme with Anil Ambani’s Reliance General Insurance, the State administration has also called off its ongoing negotiations with M/s AFCONS JAL JV for allotment of work on two tunnels of 10 kilometers each at 1000 MW Pakal Dul hydro-electric power project over river Marusadar, a tributary of Chenab, in Kishtwar district following red flag raised by Governor Satya Pal Malik mentioning “fishy deal” to allot the contract by raising cost of the work by 35 per cent.
Authorities have decided to float fresh tenders for the tunneling work at the project.
Official sources confirmed to the Excelsior that negotiations with M/s AFCONS which was lowest bidder for the tunneling work have been called off. A decision to this effect was taken at the meeting of Board of Directors of Chenab Valley Power Projects (CVPP). The Corporation has decided to float fresh tenders for the work.
The Corporation had kept reserve price for the work at Rs 1900 crore while the lowest bidder, the AFCONS had asked for Rs 2800 crore for the works which included tunneling, boring and allies activities at two places of 10 kilometers each. The negotiations were on between AFCONS and the Corporation for past sometime.
However, the Governor recently raised concerns after getting reports about some “fishy deals” in the project. He had said that negotiations were being held to raise cost of the project by 35 per cent and Rs 100 crore deal has been unearthed in it.
“Recently I came across another deal in the construction of dam over a river. The deal had been finalized for Rs 100 crore. The officers had raised cost of the project by 35 per cent over the minimum estimates. I came across the deal and stopped it. The concerned officer was removed,” he had said. However, he didn’t name the dam or the officers involved in striking such a big deal.
But, according to sources, there were enough indications that project in question was 1000 MW Pakal Dul hydro-electric power project being constructed in Kishtwar and that a senior IAS officer had been replaced by another IAS officer.
Sources said the Board of Directors of CVPP met and decided to call off negotiations with M/s AFCONS, which was lowest bidder for the tunneling works at Rs 2800 crore as against minimum reserved price of Rs 1900 crore. Now, fresh tenders will be floated for the project.
They added that the decision was taken after the Government also called entire record and had a careful study of it.
Sources pointed out that the project had gained significance as its foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Zorawar Singh Auditorium in Jammu University on May 19 this year.
Besides tunneling and boring work of 10 kilometers at two places, the project have two other components including civil works and power generation, which have already been allotted to AFCONS and JP Associates respectively.
On February 21, 2018, the civil works package for construction of Power House of 1000 MW Pakal Dul hydro electric project was awarded to AFCONS JAL JV at the total cost of Rs 1051 crore by the CVPP. The work was scheduled to be completed in 58 months from the day of allotment. The project is part of Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) worth Rs 80,000 crore.
On July 8, 2018, Jaiprakash Associates Limited (JAL) had announced that it has bagged Rs 2853 crore contract from CVPP to construct diversion tunnel and concrete face dam for Pakal Dul project.
The 1000 MW project located over Marusadar river, a tributary of Chenab in Kishtwar district, is proposed to be completed in 66 months and will provide 12 per cent free power to Jammu and Kashmir. It aims to generate 3330.18 million units of electricity annually.
The Rs 8112.12 crore project will not only be the largest hydro electric power project in the State but also the first storage unit.
The project is expected to generate employment for 3,000 persons during construction phase and to 500 persons during operation stage. The Government of J&K will be getting 12 per cent free power after 10 years of commissioning of the project and water usage charges as applicable.
Additional 1 per cent free power will go towards Local Area Development Fund (LADF). Also, the State will have first right to purchase balance power, sources said.
It may be mentioned here that Jammu and Kashmir Government has already extended various concessions to Pakal Dul project. The Union Government has also sanctioned Rs 2500 crore subordinate loan for the project besides equity contribution of Jammu Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC) in the project. The NHPC Is extending technical support to the Company for tendering of the projects as well as for designing the project components, besides deputing experiences manpower required for construction of the projects.
Meanwhile, Legislative Assembly Speaker, Dr Nirmal Singh, who was Deputy Chief Minister Incharge Power Development Department in the previous PDP-BJP coalition Government, said that the Power Ministry had no role in allotment of the project works to any company.
“The project was being executed by CVPP and not by the Power Ministry,” he told the Excelsior when his comments were sought over cancellation of the work and concerns raised by the Governor.
Dr Nirmal Singh said the Government should hold high-level inquiry into the “fishy deals”, if any, to expose those involved in it. He maintained that the Power Ministry had nothing to do with allotment of the project.