Budget crunch leads to neglect of some areas in Birgunj

Birgunj, January 5

The Secondary Town Integrated Urban Environment Improvement Project in Birgunj, funded by the Asia Development Bank, has failed to cover the entire town area in its plan, reportedly due to lack of fund.

Executive Office at Birgunj Sub-metropolis Pitambar Adhikari conceded the project has covered only half the town area. “Although the project had been designed to cover the entire town area, the jurisdiction of the project shrunk by almost half by the time it entered the implementation phase,” he said.

The area to be covered by the project reportedly shrunk after a fund of just 3 billion rupees was sanctioned against an estimate of Rs 7 billion for the entire town. “As we couldn’t get the amount needed, there was no way the project could run in the same magnitude,” said Project Consultant Expert Bhupendraman Shakya.

According to sources, the project has excluded Murli, Tajarathtole, Bhutandevi, Ranighat and areas in the vicinity of Ariarwa Lake. These places are among those worst affected by inundation in the rainy season.

Besides ADB, the Urban Development Fund and Birgunj Sub-metropolis have invested in the project. While the ADB has invested 81 per cent of the total budget, UDF and the sub-metropolis have chipped in 11 and 8 per cent respectively. A Chinese company, CTCE, and a domestic company Kalika JV have been constructing the project.

Though the 25-month deadline for completion of the project expired seven months ago, the contract period has been extended till mid-April now citing the delay caused by the blockade and earthquake.

There are reports that the cost of the project has gone up due to negligence of the consultant and its faulty design. After works couldn’t be executed as per the old design, the cost went up by 360 million rupees to build a new design. Similarly, the contract cost of the project has also been pegged to 2.842 billion rupees now from the previous 2.48 billion rupees.

Consultant Shakya conceded that the first design was faulty. “As earlier, the design was prepared without taking into account the underground system and structures straddling the road, the design had to be changed later,” he said, adding, “As for the increase in the cost of the project, the same has happened as the new design also features construction of roads and RCC sewers.”