Delay in Gas Cracker Project work Ron Duarah DIBRUGARH, Aug 20 Despite the best efforts by none other than Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the Assam Gas Cracker Project is unlikely to be commissioned in the next 25 years, if the present pace of work is allowed to continue. Apart from the Prime Minister himself, Bijoy Krishna Handique also takes a keen interest in the project, but something is seriously wrong somewhere, as work on the project, as on today is no more than the installation of a few hundred stumps of pre-fabricated concrete posts along the project site boundary at Lepetkata here.
The CMD of Brahmaputra Cracker & Polymer Limited (BCPL), Dr U D Choubey told reporters here recently that they will stick to the project commissioning schedule, but it appears he too is being mislead into making such statements. Even the chief operating officer of BCPL, J K Singh Teotia told the Dibrugarh MP, Sarbananda Sonowal that the commissioning date of August 2012 will be met. However, given the current activity at the ground, the commissioning date is certain to be pushed well beyond 2012.
All this inaction on the field at Lepetkata has not drawn any attention of the authorities concerned, even the state government and the Central government. Worse, organisations like AASU, AJYCP, ATASU, ATTSA, AASAA and ethnic students and youth groups are yet to speak a word on the painfully slow pace of work at the Rs 5600 crore mega project. Given society's indifference to the issue, the authorities at BCPL and Engineers India Limited are going scot-free, as nobody is asking any question on the implementation and execution of this project, which is coming up in accordance with the Assam Accord of 1985.
Engineers India Limited (EIL), which was appointed project management consultant for the gas cracker here, has been going about its business of evaluating tenders at its own leisurely pace, leading to delays. Of the dozen odd tenders floated between September 2007 and August this year, only one work order has been cleared: that for the site boundary fencing. Here too, the whimsical ways of the EIL and BCPL personnel became apparent, as the tender conditions made it appear that rocket technology may have to be used in plugging in the fence pillars, whereas the actual work is precast concrete fabrication of the posts, installing these and connecting these to barbed wire fencing material.
In the last ten months, tenders have been floated for the following works: site office, project warehouse, non-plant buildings, site grading, miscellaneous electrical works and land route survey for the Lakwa Lepetkata Duliajan gas pipeline network. Work orders for none of these works have been issued by BCPL, as EIL is taking its own time to complete its work. As for the pipeline survey work, the initial survey has been done on the Lakwa Lepetkata sector, but no more.
Contractors wanting to associate themselves with BCPL said they are frustrated at the "unnecessary re-tendering and extension of bid submission dates." A few of these contractors are from Assam, and they have to bear additional cost of travel and stay at Delhi, as gas cracker tender papers are received at EIL's office in New Delhi. Assam based contractors have been demanding that their bids be received either at Dibrugarh or Guwahati, but nobody is listening, they complained.
The contractors have also accuses EIL and BCPL of not properly publicising their notices as per government guidelines. These guidelines state that advertisements should appear in two mass circulated dailies, one in the local language and the other in english. The CPWD and AAI Contractors Association president, Sunil Gogoi said, The Assam Tribune is almost compulsory for any government and tender and other public advertisement in north-east India. Strangely enough, gas gracker tender advertisements are not advertised through The Assam Tribune. Gogoi said this is because EIL and BCPL do not want their notices to be read by, the maximum number of contractors.
The contractors have also bitterly complained against the "uncalled for credential clauses" in the BCPL tender notices. It may be noteworthy that most of the tender notices floated so far by EIL on behalf of BCPL (through websites) have put difficult conditions, making it almost impossible for many to participate in the bids, though most of the civil works do not necessarily require such high credentials. The result is that while many in Assam do not qualify to participate in the bidding process, the bigger parties elsewhere in the country are unwilling to come to Assam, given the state's poor law and order image. In the process, EIL and BCPL officials have all the reasons to sit back and relax, and wish for Dr Manmohan Singh and the Assam Gas Cracker Project to both go to the wilderness.