Consultancy for stalled Gulbarga airport project cost govt Rs 70L

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Gulbarga: The State government paid over Rs 70 lakh to a company for project management and consultancy for the Gulbarga Airport Development Project (GADP) which has remained stalled for the last two years with no indications whatsoever about resuming the incomplete work.

The government first paid Rs 60,05,640 to the Infrastructure Development Corporation (Karnataka) Limited (iDeCK) by going out of the way to hire it for consultancy by exempting it from the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurements Act, 1999.

The government paid another Rs 10,11,240 to the company, taking the total payment to Rs 70,16,880.

The then BJP government in 2009 had given approval for the scope of services and sanction for payment of fees to iDeCK for project management and consultancy for the GADP at the rate not exceeding Rs three lakh a month for 12 months.

Though the then chief minister B S Yeddyurappa laid the foundation for the much-publicised airport project in June 2009 with a promise to construct it in two years, the project has not been completed even after five years.

And in the last two years, there has been no work at all.

But the consultancy and management service charges have been paid to the company under the Special Development Plan (SDP) which was evolved to redress regional imbalances and eradicate backwardness as recommended by the High Powered Committee on Regional Imbalances headed by Dr D M Najundappa.

In the first phase, exemption to iDeCK from the KTTP Act was given only for 12 months. But the exemption was extended to December 2012, since there was delay in the start of work. It was further extended to December 2014.

The iDeCK, a joint venture between the State government and the two finance companies—Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC) and Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC)—claims to have an extensive experience in advising state governments on setting up PPP projects, preparing minor airport policy, feasibility studies, structuring of projects and bid process management. The GADP is a public private participation (PPP) enterprise.

After a consortium led by Mytas Infra failed to start work, the Regional Airport Holdings International (RAHI) was roped in and it promised to start commercial operation by July 2012.
But work came to a halt in May 2012, following internal differences between the RAHI and its financial partners, and has not resumed since.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had, in his maiden budget for 2013-14, announced that Gulbarga airport would be completed by the end of March 2013.
But nothing came out of it. Infrastructure Minister R Roshan Baig had recently said that an alternative agency was being looked for completion of the remaining work on the airport.

Sources say only about 25 per cent of the work has remained and could be completed in six months. But the moot point is who will complete it?

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