Selaulim pipeline issue: govt wins arbitration battle

By ROQUE DIAS | NT

Margao

After a challenging fight for almost 18 long years, the
state government won an arbitration case recently, pertaining to
Selaulim water pipeline and saved around Rs 40 crore from
the treasury.

Arbitrator Justice (retired) A P Lawande passed
an order to this effect in a 2001 case filed by agency M/S
Karnataka Cement Pipe Factory (KCPF), Hubli, against chief engineer, PWD
and EE (works division XII of PWD-Sanguem) over Selaulim
pipeline dispute.

The order, however, sends a strong message to
construction companies and contractors who do not complete works in
time and that cases of arbitration without proper supporting material and
documents will not stand in the court of law.

There have been allegations against construction
companies and contractors that arbitration cases are filed to extract more
money from the government over tendered works and many a times, they
win the cases.

As regards Selaulim, it is a case of the first
pipeline of 1400 mm dia that was laid in Goa under 160
MLD Selaulim water supply project (1984 to 1989) when Pratapsingh
Rane was the chief minister, through a tendered amount of Rs 7.28 crore.

The tender was awarded to KCPF, Hubli
for manufacturing of 1400 mm dia pre-stressed
concrete pipes and transporting them at the site,
laying and jointing and conducting hydraulic testing, besides
other work of treatment plant from Selaulim to
Margao- a distance of 26 kms for 160 MLD SWSP.
The work was supposed to be completed within 1095 days,
that is, by August 15, 1987.

As per case details, the pipeline could not be commissioned as
per the schedule and it got delayed for two years.

Sources said that then the government agreed to
commission the pipeline in October 1989, leaving out
minor works, considering acute shortage of water for the people of Margao
and surroundings areas. The remaining works were however completed by 1991 with
a separate agreement for hydraulic testing of the entire
pipeline.

The contractor released the bill in February
1996. It was however not cleared for several alleged discrepancies.
This did not go down well with the contractor, who made a case for arbitration
for Rs 21 crore in 2001. Counter claims were also filed in the court
subsequently. The battle went on for 18 long years.

The case was first heard by arbitrator and
former chief justice of Gujarat High Court, J D Kamat. The
final award, that was presented by the sole arbitrator
Justice (retired)A P Lawande, has terminated and
closed the arbitral proceedings, which involved the perusal of
voluminous contract documents, technical drawings,
correspondence etc, taking over 18 years, and rejected all the
claims made by KCPF and PWD.

The state government, thus, saved
around Rs 40 crore (double the amount of Rs 21 crore,
considering the time period of 18 years), says advocate
Fortunato D’Mello, who appeared for the respondent with assistance of
the PWD senior engineers including late S P Paranjape.

When contacted engineer in-charge of Selaulim dam
area, for information on the pipeline, Srikant Gaonkar stated that the
said pipeline was discarded five years ago and that a
substitute pipeline was laid. He also informed
that simultaneously JICA pipeline was laid for augmentation of
water. He however could not give further information on it.

Source:: The Navhind Times

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