The Neyyar water supply project, which promises an additional 100 million litres a day (mld) to the capital city, appears to be stuck in limbo with the project site still mired in an ownership dispute. Meantime, the project itself is threatening to get costlier for the Kerala Water Authority (KWA).
Chicago Constructions International Pvt. Ltd., the contractor for the ₹56.2-crore project, has informed the KWA that the rates in the original contract need to be re-negotiated, given the inordinate delay that has hit the project. The project would be commercially unviable under the terms of the existing contract, the firm is understood to have informed the KWA.
Although the contractor had mobilised personnel and machinery, work could not be commenced due to vehement protests over the status of the property.
A year since contract
Come September 19, it would be exactly one year since the KWA inked the contract with the Thiruvananthapuram-based firm. As per the agreement, the work was to be completed in 18 months. In fact, the KWA had plans to commission the 120 mld project (100 mld to the city and 20 mld to four panchayats) in March 2021.
Delays have stalked the project despite the government formally transferring six acres of land from the Irrigation Department to the KWA on February 18, 2020. Following a dispute over a temple on the site, the Sree Rama Dasa Mission, Chenkottukonam, moved court against its forceful eviction claiming ‘Kuthakapattam.’ On July 30, the Additional Munsiff Court, Neyyattinkara, granted an order of temporary injunction restraining the government and the KWA from evicting the petitioner or launching construction on the property until further orders.
Meanwhile, KWA officials said that the utility had taken steps to sort out the issue. The KWA has appealed against the July 30 order in the District Court, Suresh Chandran, superintending engineer, Thiruvananthapuram Circle, said. Revision of project schedules would be dependent on the court decision.
On cost escalation
Decisions pertaining to re-negotiation of the terms of contract had to be taken at a higher level, he said.
The project involves the deployment of a floating intake system in the Neyyar reservoir, allied infrastructure and the construction of a water treatment plant. The KWA is taking up the construction of a transmission pipeline to the city as a separate project.