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'Double standards' of construction giant Isolux exposed

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  3 Feb 2016 12:00 AM GMT

From a Correspondent

JORHAT, February 2: The Rs 300-crore mega project of four-laning road construction work of the Jorhat-Jhanji bypass section covering 38 km has been stalled after a growing tussle between two contractors, of whom one is reportedly trying to pitch tent into an already agreed deal capitalized by way of signing of an MoU between Isolux Corson, a venture of Corsan Corviam Construction, a company incorporated under the laws of Spain, and a sub-contractor Sahabuddin Siddique of Duliajan in Dibrugarh district to complete the four laning.

Notably, the unexpected shutdown has resulted in growing traffic srls along the NH-37. Potholes have not been filled and all this is taking a toll on commuters. The NH-37 is the main lifeline connecting Upper Assam with Lower Assam. Felling of more than 5,000 trees by the forest department to pave way for the widening of the road has already ruined the highway which was once covered with lush green trees. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) had enforced a three-hour long road blockade on October 6 last year demanding immediate repair of the NH -37.

Incidentally, the four-laning of Jorhat to Jhanji section of tiol Highway-37, from Km 453.000 to Km 490.800 in the f Assam under SARDP through EPC (Engineering, Procurement & Construction) basis Project was invited by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH). Isolux, which bagged the contract through tendering, hived the Jorhat-Jhanji section for a 9 per cent royalty of Rs 300 crore to a Manipur based firm, thus making a profit of Rs 27 crore alone without doing anything while taking advantage of India’s faulty credential system. And as expected, the said firm failed to carry out construction. As a result, the project was behind schedule by almost a year. The failure thus paved away for signing of renewed MoUs with other sub-contractors like Sahabuddin Siddique.

Sources in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, on condition of anonymity, informed about companies like Isolux adopting a unique modus-operandi to earn profits. After initial help from sub-contractors who complete 10 per cent of the work, Isolux re-inducts new contractors so that people associated automatically become hostile and when resistance grow, Isolux reports back to the government about the hostility and other variety reasons and thus seeks more time for the work execution which in turn helps them to secure the shared pelties and keep intact the bank guarantees. But Union Minister Nitin Gadkari who iugurated the four-laning project in Jorhat on April 30 last year learnt the trick and the company had to face the ire of both the Minister and the Road Transport and Highways Ministry.

Talking to The Sentinel ,Sahabuddin Siddique said, “The project was already behind schedule by a year after the Manipur firm failed. Work under me was progressing well in the Meleng area in between Jorhat Bypass and Jhanji. As per the MoU, the chaige starts from Km 460+685 to Km 479+460 in the otherwise 38 Km of road between Jorhat and Jhanji. But a sudden decision by Isolux to induct another contractor of Lower Assam, one Girin Deka in the same chaige of which Isolux agreed and signed an MoU with me has taken me aback. And this has been made possible by the greedy Isolux officials of both Jorhat as well as the New Delhi corporate office in exchange for huge kickbacks. Where was Girin Deka when Isolux signed the pact with me? As a fellow contractor I have no objection to Deka’s expansion of work but there are other chaige available like the Jhanji-Demow section. Why not that? Why only the Jorhat Jhanji section? Why jump into my section?”

“I have already invested several crores of rupees into the project and am doing my work sincerely. I had to spend more than Rs 1 crore in deploying and opening up a new site. Is my money to be wasted? Widespread resentment is already in the air with every chance of bloodbath between us. Without any surety I cannot afford to lose the crores of rupees I have spent till date. Jorhat based Isolux officials are behind the conspiracy to engage us at loggerheads for their own benefit. Whereas many among the contractors fraternity are of the opinion that Girin Deka is channelizing money from former Bodo insurgents who are now overground leaders. It is a nefarious design to pump money extorted out of Bodoland into construction works in a bid to make it legal and convert it into white.”

Project Mager Isolux Jorhat, Mahesh Kumar Mishra told The Sentinel, “News of the induction of a new contractor is yet to be confirmed though I cannot also ignore the fact that some people through some special channels have been confirmed of applying for a part of the contact in the Jorhat-Jhanji bypass section. It is a company decision and we are mere watch dogs. A proper work order, if any, will only certify that it will be a performance oriented contract and we will monitor whose performance is best. Sahabuddin Siddique too has been doing his work diligently especially after the Manipur firm pushed back the project by one year.”

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