SHILLONG, Jan 6 - The Crowborough hotel and old Assembly in the State capital are symbols of policy paralysis and short-sightedness of policy makers in Meghalaya and it’s likely that the list would get longer with the inclusion of under construction five Star hotel in Jail Road here.
Construction of Crowborough hotel has not been completed despite work starting 30 years ago in 1987 due to endless litigation between the Government and the private parties.
The Assembly building at Police Bazaar, a remnant of the old Meghalaya Assembly was partially gutted in 2001. However, the policy makers over the years have been unable to identify a new site and build the new Assembly complex in the past 16 years.
Similarly, the 5-star hotel project, which started in 2010 has not been completed even after seven years and there are again litigations. From day one questions were raised on the project.
HM Cements Ltd entered into an agreement with Shillong Municipal Board in February 2009 as the “sole bidder.” The agreement was to construct the project on a Build-Operate-Transfer basis (30 year period) under Public Private Partnership mode.
However, since the land belonged to the Government, a fresh agreement was signed between Urban Affairs department and the company in 2010 and the land was handed over to the company for the project.
Under the agreement, the company was to hand 30,000 sq ft of constructed space for SMB’s office and 5,000 sq ft for parking. The hotel was to be built on another 72,000 sq ft land. Apart from the considerable delay in constructing the project, the constructing company has violated clauses of the agreement.
According to a CAG report, HM cements was to pay Rs 72.24 lakh as security deposit 14 days prior to Commercial Operation Date (COD) or Estimated Date of Completion (EDC) whichever was earlier.
It was also agreed that the company would pay another Rs 72.24 lakh as rent payable quarterly from the date of COD or EDC whichever was earlier. The COD/EDC was fixed as July 23, 2011 and later extended by the Government upto December 31, 2013.
The company requested for further extension of the date but this time the Government refused, only to reduce the rent by 50 per cent from Rs 72.24 lakh to Rs 36.12 lakh for the period January 2014 to December 2014.
The CAG pointed out that the company “despite availing the benefits of COD/EDC by two years and five months and rent reduction failed to pay the security deposit and the rent of another Rs 72.24 lakh for the period January 2015 to December 2016.”
Moreover, SMB gave the No Objection Certificate to the company to mortgage the land in November 2010, CAG said adding, there was “no provision in the agreement” for charging security from HM Cements Ltd., for permitting it to mortgage the Government land to protect the Government’s interest in case of any default by the company.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer has said that a legal notice has been served on HM Cements Ltd regarding the violation.