Report of cancelling proposed cable car baseless: Tourism director

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IMPHAL, January 14: The Directorate of Tourism Government of Manipur has refuted news reports that the proposed cable car project at Loktak Lake has been cancelled even before its implementation as baseless.

Reacting to the news report, director Tourism Shyam Lal Poonia has issued a clarification stating that the report was not based on correct facts and published from incompetent information.

According to the report, the project which was due to be implemented with a Bangkok based private firm, M/s Red Hills Company limited on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model is currently in a mess. The project has been cancelled against the backdrop of allocation of crores of rupees, the report had said.

Moreover, the State government has reportedly paid huge amount in advance to the M/s Red Hills Co. Ltd. even before the work was started it said alleging that the Bangkok firm was picked by the Chief Minister after coming across the said firm during a foreign tour.

The director Tourism however has clarified that a sum of Rs 20.35 crores for the project `Integrated Cable Car and Lakeside Tourism Development Project at Loktak Lake`™ was sanctioned by Ministry of Tourism, Govenrment of Manipur (vide letter No. F. No, 6-ENE (15)/2013 dated February 21, 2014 and dated March 31, 2014 being 25 percent of the project cost, out of which Rs 10 lakhs have been released as token amount for starting the work to the State government under Large Revenue Generating Scheme (LRGS) of the Ministry of Tourism .

Accordingly, Tourism department had floated e-tender for selection of PPP partner, but having not received any response on the first bid a fresh tender was floated vide letter No.4/426/2013-DTSM March 4, 2014, it said.

Following the second bid the department reportedly received bids from two companies including M/s Red Hills Company Limited, Bangkok and M/s Aarchem Enterprise, Kolkata, it said.

After evaluating the two firms by Higher Tender Committee in its meeting held on April, 30, 2014 the committee recommended M/s Red Hills as PPP partner for passenger Ropeway with revenue sharing at 9.75 percent along with other conditions.

It revealed that the matter was put up before the cabinet and with the approval of the cabinet the work was awarded to M/s Red Hills by the Tourism department (vide letter No.4/426/2013-DTSM dated June 4, 2014).

Magnifying on the report of cancellation, it explained that after the award of work, further steps were taken by the Government, Directorate of Tourism and Manipur Development Society in expediting execution of work.

Since, not much progress was made by the Bangkok firm, the Directorate of Tourism issued show cause notice (vide Notice No.4/456/2014-DTSM dated November 20, 2014) to the firm as to why the works assigned to them should not be withdrawn and cancelled or their acts of omission/commission, it continued.

Responding to the notice the Bangkok company (in their leeter No. RH/DOPP/SCN/001 dated December 10, 2014) explained that due to change of Government in Thailand and consequent change of rule with serious restrictions on Financial Institutions and their functioning, it remains impossible for them to arrange for the project. Accordingly, the firm intimated that they shall be able to put forward their contribution of 60 percent of the project cost, it said.

The statement held that in view of the developments, the government is in the process of cancelling the work awarded to M/s Red Hills Company Limited, Bangkok and to forfeit their security deposit, after adjustment of expenditure incurred by the firm on conducting various relating to Geological Contours, Alignment of Towers and Soil Testing.

It strongly reacted that the Chief Minister during his foreign visit never came across the said firm adding that the firm has not been given any advance money by State government.

Against this backdrop, it pointed out that after the award of work by the Government, the firm has completed various surveys relating to Geological contours, alignment of Towers and Soil testing etc. and added that the Government is quantifying the value of these works executed by the firm, after which a decision would be taken for forfeiting their security deposit.

The cecision to cancel the work to the firm is being taken based on their reply, it said.

Clarifying on the allocation of money, it said that the State Government has allocated only Rupees 610 lakhs during 2014-15 and not Rupees 610 crores adding that it was improper to say that 25 percent of the sanctioned amount has been given in advance.

It further put forward that the state Government is taking necessary steps to float RFQ-cum-RFP once again for selection of new PPP partner and for implementation of the said project on priority.

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