New Kochi Corporation building in the making for 15 years

A view of the under-construction Cochin Corporation building at Marine Drive.

A view of the under-construction Cochin Corporation building at Marine Drive.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Work was halted in 2008, with contractor citing omission of some costs from estimates

The construction of the new Kochi Corporation building that should have taken a year or two, has taken the civic body a grand total of 15 years and counting. The end is still nowhere in sight.

Work on the six-storey building on 1.5 acres near Marine Drive began in 2005. The contractor halted work in 2008, complaining of some costs being omitted from the estimates. The estimates, prepared by corporation engineers, had left out plastering costs and had underestimated the number of reinforcing steel bars required.

The matter was taken to court, and a Government Order was issued in 2015 to pay the contractor 25% in excess of the 2012 construction rates, after which work resumed. Another revised estimate was prepared in 2018 for the expenses left out of the initial estimate. The total cost had shot up from ₹12.70 crore in 2005 to ₹24.71 crore in 2018, a hefty bill that the corporation has been struggling to foot.

A proposal to apply for a loan of around ₹25 crore from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) to complete work on the building was placed before the corporation council earlier this year, but it was shot down by the Opposition.

“At a time when the corporation was already facing a shortage of funds, particularly for important projects like the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, a loan to complete the construction was not apt. Till measures are taken to augment income, the debt burden should not rise,” said an Opposition councillor.

A councillor on the ruling side chalks it up to a political issue—the LDF not wanting to see the building being completed under a UDF-led council.

Structural work on the building is likely to be completed by March next year, said a source at the corporation, after which a fresh tender will have to be called to complete the interiors, plumbing, and electricity.

Deputy Mayor K.R. Premakumar is confident that the inauguration of at least the ground floor and the council hall will be possible before the current council’s term ends in October next year. He attributes the delay in work, even after revised estimates were drawn up, to a perpetual shortage of funds that had impeded payments to the contractor.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 3:00:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/new-corpn-building-in-the-making-for-15-years/article30505543.ece

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