S. Anil Radhakrishnan

No sanction yet; company might pull out

Firm has spent

Rs. 4 crore for the

project in Kovalam

Project was cleared by an empowered panel in January

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: New Zealand-based Artificial Surfing Reef (ASR) Ltd., that had taken up the works on the multi-purpose reef to be set up off the Kovalam coast, is planning to pull out following the delay in granting of sanction to the Rs.7.8-crore project.

“We have already spent Rs.4 crore towards conducting studies in Kovalam and for procuring equipment from Australia and Germany for the reef. We had been running from pillar to post for the past five months to get government sanction. Now, we are thinking of pulling out,” a top ASR official told The Hindu.

Daily loss of Rs.4 lakh

It had hired an excavator, barge and boat from Kovalam for the work.

The work has now suspended the preliminary works in the worksite of the Department of Harbour Engineering premises near Vizhinjam.

Ten skilled workers recruited from abroad have been sitting idle.

The company is suffering a daily loss of Rs.4 lakh towards the salary of the staff, rent for the barge, excavator and boat, he said.

The official said the company had already paid more than Rs.40 lakh in India towards customs duty and demurrage.

‘No reason cited’

“We have not been given any funds till date. In fact, we reduced the cost of the project. The government is delaying the sanction without citing any reason despite the project being cleared by the empowered committee of Secretaries on January 20,” the official said.

The project is being implemented by the Kerala Tourism under the Centre’s tsunami rehabilitation programme through the Department of Harbour Engineering.

Threat of fund lapse

The project has to be completed before March to avoid lapse of funds.

“A minimum of 45 days is needed for the works. The months of December, January and February were ideal for the works. It will be a big challenge to take up a work of this nature now as the sea will be rough from March,” the company official said.

Cost hike approved

Secretary, Tourism, V. Venu said the empowered committee has cleared the hike in work cost — from Rs.4.05 crore to Rs.7.8 crore — in view of the increase in the volume of the reef.

“Administrative sanction is needed for the revised estimate and for releasing the funds from Kerala Tourism to the ASR,” he added.