Builder liable to pay rebuilding cost of Palarivattom flyover

Kochi: The Kerala government can levy the Rs 20 crore needed to rebuild the faulty Palarivattom flyover in Kochi from the construction company, RDS Projects. The clause was discovered in the contract documents submitted to the Vigilance court as the probe into the irregularities in the project is under way.

If any flaws or defects were detected within 36 months of construction, then the contractor firm has to rectify those at its own expense, states Part III of the contract deal.

The Palarivattom flyover was inaugurated on October 12, 2016. Therefore, the RDS Projects is responsible for rectifying any problems detected on the flyover till October 11, 2019, on its own.

The construction flaws in the flyover were detected in July 2017 and the facility was closed for traffic on May 1, 2019 owing to safety concerns.

As per Clause 49.1 of the manual of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers the state government can levy the rebuilding expenses of projects like the Palarivattom flyover. In the construction works that it supervises, the KITCO follows the norms stipulated by the Federation which is known worldwide with the acronym FIDIC for its French name Fédération Internationale Des Ingénieurs-Conseils.

However, the probe team would check if there are any loopholes in the contract conditions that would protect the construction company from this. Even if the expenses are levied from the company, the prosecution proceedings can be continued against the firm in the corruption case.

Either the construction company or any other agency entrusted by the government can rectify the defects of the flyover. E Sreedharan, the principal advisor of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), would be leading the rebuilding works.

Inaugural controversy

When the Palarivattom flyover was inaugurated on October 12, 2016, RDS Projects had not completed the construction. Generally, the supervising agency, KITCO, would give the completion certificate prior to the inauguration. RDS did not have the completion certificate even on the inaugural day.

Minister's role?

Meanwhile, the accused in the Palarivattom flyover scam have filed bail pleas in the High Court. They are former Public Works Department (PWD) secretary T O Sooraj, former general manager of Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala Limited (RBDCK) M T Thankachan.

In his plea to the HC, Sooraj claimed that the then PWD Minister V K Ebrahim Kunju had instructed to give the advance amount of Rs 8.25 crore for flyover construction without interest. And that it was he who ordered to levy the interest rate.

The RBDCK's request to give advance amount was checked and approved by the assistant secretary, deputy secretary and additional secretary before it reached Sooraj. And then he approved the file and forwarded it to the minister, the plea explained.

When the minister decided to give permission for it, Sooraj sought to levy the interest rate. The interest of Rs 8.25 lakh was levied through four bills.

The money deposited by the Kerala Road Fund Board at five per cent interest was given at seven per cent interest. Therefore, it was wrong to say that the government suffered losses by giving the advance amount, the plea contended.

The petition also pointed out that Rs 25 crore was granted for Edappally flyover construction without any interest.

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