The Madhya Pradesh irrigation department blacklisted a Hyderabad-based company over a nine-year delay in a project and categorized it as “sedition”, according to department officials.
The company, HES Infra Limited in 2013 won the bid for canals to irrigate 40,050 hectares in the command area of Tons river for ₹238.33 crore. The work was to be completed in 36 months.
On November 21, the Madhya Pradesh water resource department blacklisted the company for failing to complete the project stating the delay in the work amounted to “sedition” as it caused a loss of ₹1,750 crore to the national agriculture production.
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According to officials, this is the first time a company has been accused of sedition for not completing the project on time.
Ganga Kachar water resource department Rewa chief engineer CM Tripathi, who signed the order, said the work was not completed by the contractor even after a lapse of more than nine years.
“Against 40,050 hectares of land, only 15,000 hectares of irrigation area has been developed by the contractor to date. Due to incomplete work of the main canal, its minor canals and concrete structures, the remaining 25,050-hectare area is deprived of irrigation,” read the order.
“In its reply, the contractor has mainly cited non-payment of dues, Covid-19 pandemic and lack of revised administrative approval as the reason for non-completion of the work. The arguments given by the contractor were fully examined and it was found that the work of land acquisition was to be done as per the provisions, which was argued to be delayed due to Covid-19. It is not acceptable, the contractual completion date is September 2016 and Covid 19 pandemic was reported in 2020,” said the order.
Tripathi said, “Over 25,000-hectare land is still unirrigated due to delay in the project. According to the agriculture department, about 3.5 MT grains grow in every hectare and the total estimated cost of production in 25,000-hectare land in six years is ₹1,715 crore.”
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The order said that the explanations given by the company were “beyond” and the delay caused a loss of ₹1,715 crore in the national agricultural production and comes under the category of sedition.
A show-cause notice to HES was also sent by the department on October 1 regarding the matter and the response was received from the contractor on October 18, 2022.
“It is an act of sedition. I have warned 14 companies with the same kind of notices because a case should be registered against these companies for causing loss to the nation,” said Tripathi.
According to the order, HES Infra Limited has been blacklisted for three years meaning it cannot participate in any government work either in its own name or in the name of partners/operators.
Despite repeated attempts over call and e-mail, HES private Infra Limited officials did not respond.