Indus Water Treaty

It's nothing but a quantification of losses



The Omar Abdullah Government has faced yet another embarrassment with the consultant, M/s Halcrow, approved by the State Cabinet, last month for ‘Quantification of losses suffered by J&K Government on account of Indus Water Treaty’ refusing to sign the contract for the study. It is understood the consultant has instead sought return of his bid security since bid validity had long expired and that he was under no contractual obligation to sign the contract. Major regional political parties of the state have been pleading for compensating the state for the losses the state of J&K had suffered on account of the Indus Water Treaty which was signed between India and Pakistan in 1960. Various estimates have been projected, some of which suggest losses to the tune of Rs 50,000 crores annually while others have had a more realistic figure of Rs 20,000 crores from 1960 to 2010. To have a scientific and evidence based quantification of the losses JKSPDC approached WAPCOS, a Govt of India enterprise, for undertaking the study. Given the highly sensitive and controversial nature of the study WAPCOS declined to undertake it. Subsequently, in Oct 2010 the J&K State Power Development Corporation Ltd (JKSPDC) invited bids for ‘Engagement of Consultant for quantification of Losses suffered by J&K on account of Indus water Treaty’.  Only one bid, from M/s Halcrow Consulting India P Ltd, New Delhi, was received. Since this was a single bid after deliberations and discussions in JKSPDC and the Secretariat, it was decided to cancel the existing bidding and invite fresh bids. Accordingly, fresh bids were in May 2011. Again only one bid was received from the same bidder, i.e. M/s Halcrow. As per the tender document the bid validity period was prescribed as six months. So effectively the bids submitted by the Consultant was valid till Nov 2011.
Since it was again a single bid, approval was sought and obtained from the Hon’ble Chief Minster, for opening of the financial bid of the single bidder. The consultant had quoted a lump sum figure of Rs 1.89 crores for undertaking this study. A case was prepared by JKSPDC and submitted to the Board of the Corporation. It is said that when the case was put up to Secretariat it suffered the usual bureaucratic red tape. Nobody seemed to be taking ownership of the study which resulted in the file being tossed between the Planning & Development Department, the Chief Minister’s Secretariat and the Power Development Department. Rumours are that one file was lost in this bargain and a fresh file had to be prepared.
No decision was taken from May 2011 and more than a year later in Jun 12 in the Hydro Power Conference held at SKICC, in reply to a specific question by a reporter about fixing of the consultancy assurance was given that the case was under consideration and that it would be decided very shortly Now it is understood that on the instructions of the Hon’ble Chief Minister the case was put up by the Power Development Department to the State Cabinet in Apr 13 who approved it. Accordingly, an order was issued by the General Administration Department authorizing JKSPDC to engage the consultant.
But the beauty of the situation is that nobody from the Power Dev Deptt or the General Department bothered to check the validity of the bid before putting it in front of Sate Cabinet for decision. The refusal by M/s Halcrow has put the government in a very embarrassing position It is time the government fixed responsibility for this goof up.
Interestingly, the value of the fee was peanuts compared to the crores of rupees of losses that are being talked about. Considering the lower estimate of a loss of Rs 20,000 crores for a period of 50 years, from 1960 to 2010, the daily loss works out to Rs 1.10 crores. Effectively, the consultancy fee works out to less than 2 days of losses. The questions that come to one’s mind are that firstly for such small fee should it have taken the government two years to decide, secondly whose decision was it to put such a small contract to cabinet for approval and thirdly does nobody check the cabinet memos before they are put to the cabinet. It just goes to show that despite the ruling party and the opposition crying themselves hoarse over the losses due to IWT are not serious about taking up the issue and are only fooling the people.     

Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 May 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 May 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 18 May 2013 00:00:00 IST

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