Kochi: Fund crunch hits State Water Transport Department modernisation

Deccan Chronicle.  | Krishna Kumar K E

Nation, Current Affairs

The SWTD was planning to roll out another fast ferry on the lines of 'Vega 120' in August.

As per the contract with manufacturers, the SWTD has to allocate manufacturing cost at different stages based on work progress instead of making lumpsum payment. The treasury cap has resulted in major contractors not being paid for months altogether.

Kochi: A treasury curb imposed by the state government has hit the ongoing modernisation drive of the State Water Transport Department (SWTD) delaying rolling out of fast ferry and new steel boats among other issues.

"Currently there is a cap on maximum amount that can be drawn from the treasury by the various departments like PWD and the SWTD. The bills relating to capacity increase and infrastructure maintenance above Rs five lakh are being returned. This has delayed most of the projects by two to three months," sources said.

As per the contract with manufacturers, the SWTD has to allocate manufacturing cost at different stages based on work progress instead of making lumpsum payment. The treasury cap has resulted in major contractors not being paid for months altogether.

"We faced the issue since February that has affected the work. Our sub-contractors stopped services due to non-payment. There is a delay of two to three months and often we're forced to find working capital to the tune of Rs one crore from own pockets," said a  boat manufacturer.

The SWTD was planning to roll out another fast ferry on the lines of 'Vega 120' in August. The construction of the twin-engine catamaran-type boat nearly got over and the vessel rolled out to water in July last.

However, the interior works could not be done due to paucity of funds.

The issue has affected  12 modernisation projects that include first-of-its kind water-taxis (four), 100-passenger capacity solar ferry and two 75 passenger capacity solar ferries among others.

The worst hit will be the Ernakulam region where the SWTD's plan to replace existing fleet of 'rusty' steel boats with new fibre-reinforced ones will get further delayed.

The first of the lot was scheduled to be delivered in September and another one in October, however, the boats are now expected to be delivered only by December.

 

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