The Uttarakhand government’s efforts to expand and modernise Naini Saini airport has suffered a setback, after the newly appointed consultant decided to back out on finding that the consultancy fees were not attractive.
The government-owned Uttarakhand State Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (USIDCL), which is the nodal agency for the development of airports, had appointed Mumbai-based Stup as the consultant for the expansion and modernisation of Naini Saini airport in the hilly Pithoragarh district and agreed to pay Rs 3.51 crore as the consultancy fees as being demanded by the company.
“Yes, the consultant for Naini Saini airport has backed out. The company is not finding any profit in the project,” said a government official. The government took nearly 8-10 years to appoint the new consultant owing to tough bureaucratic procedures in the state as files related to the airport gathered dust. An investment of Rs 56 crore is proposed for expanding and strengthening the runway, upgrading other related operational infrastructure and terminal facilities at the Naini Saini airport, which had not been operational for years now.
The USIDCL invited bids in 2008 for hiring a consultant but the process hit roadblock on technical grounds. After cancelling bids twice, Stup was chosen as the new consultant when fresh bids were invited.
As soon as the new consultant was appointed last year, the finance department raised some objection over the consultancy fees and asked the civil aviation department to renegotiate with the company to bring the fees down.
On the other hand, the civil aviation department found the fees normal and pleaded that the consultancy fees of Rs 3.51 crore must be paid in the wake of the high inflation. Later, the finance department agreed to pay the consultancy fees of Rs 3.51 crore. But now, the company does not want to take up the work. When contacted, Principal Secretary Civil Aviation P C Sharma confirmed the development and said his department would soon take up the matter regarding the development of Naini Saini airport.