High Court Seeks Explanation On Kokernag Water Supply Delay By 7 Years  

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday sought personal affidavit of the Secretary, Chief Engineer, concerned Superintending Engineer and Assistant Executive Engineer Jal Shakti (previously PHE) department regarding reasons for seven long years delay in execution of water supply scheme in Kokernag area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

A bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also noticed with “seriousness” stay granted by its sub-ordinate court to the re-tendering of the scheme by the concerned authorities.

As per a plea before the court, Executive Engineer, Jal Shakti, (PHE) Division, Bijbehara had invited tenders for the execution of laying and fitting of supply main/washout 500mm dia DI WSS Junk of pipes WSS Kokernag on 14 February 2014.

The works were allotted to a contractor being the successful bidders by the department and the allotment was issued in their favour. However, as per the department, the contractor did not execute the work as per the terms and conditions of the contract and agreement. Consequently, the department cancelled the contract and initiate a fresh process of allotment of the contract. Accordingly, the Executive Engineer on 16 Number 2019, invited e-tenders for the same work.  The contractor challenged the e-tenders before Principal District and Sessions Judge Anantnag, in a civil suit   and the court granted the stay on 6 February 2020 “without providing the opportunity of filing objections and engaging the counsel by the department.”

“The Court at this stage, while noticing the benefit of scheme for the supply of water to each household of Kokernag, considers it proper to pass appropriate orders, but while doing so, the Court also seeks personal affidavit of the Secretary to Government, Jal Shakti (PHE), department, as also the Chief Engineer, Superintending Engineer and Assistant Executive Engineer, Jal Shakti (PHE), department, as to why the scheme, which is sanctioned in the year 2013, for the supply of water to the huge population of Kokernag, got delayed for about seven long years. The appellants owe an explanation, as not only public exchequer but the public interest is involved. The appellants while filing such affidavit shall indicate the steps taken by them from time to time for ensuring the completion of the scheme for supply of quality water to the area covered under the scheme,” the bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said as per news agency GNS, adding, “The Court also views the approach adopted by the Court below seriously in staying the e-tender notice …without realizing that the same has the effect of stalling the implementation of the water supply scheme for huge populated area of Kokernag.”

Prima facie, the court said, it appears that the only relief, which is available to the contractor, maybe to claim the relief for breach of the contract, which in essence does not give them any right to seek performance of a contract, as per the settled position of law.

“In the meantime, the impugned order dated 06.02.2020, passed by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Anantnag, in a civil suit bearing File No. 08/Misc titled Mohammad Hussain Patoo and Anr. Vs. UT of JK and Ors. shall stay till next date of hearing before the Bench,” the court said and directed the department to ensure completion of the tender process by or before the next date of hearing (11 December) and apprise the Court about the result.

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