High-level team from Italy visiting Nepal for Melamchi negotiations

Sunday, January 6th, 2019 | | Money

Jan 6, 2019-

The ongoing dispute between the government and the Melamchi water supply project contractor seems to be headed for a resolution with a high-level team of the Italian contractor scheduled to arrive on Monday.

The team of the Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC), the main contractor of the project, led by its CEO Paolo Porcelli, will arrive in Kathmandu on January 7.

Surya Raj Kandel, executive director of the Melamchi Water supply Development Board, confirmed that the team from Italy was called over a row between the two parties that has continued for weeks.

“As the project remains stalled and we are open to negotiations, we have invited them here for talks,” Kandel told the Post. “Following correspondence between both sides and due to their interest in resolving the matter, the high-level CMC team is coming to Nepal.”

Works at the national pride project have halted for weeks since the contractor informed the government about termination of contract through an official letter on December 17, citing a financial dispute.

When they left the project site, the government apprehended the contractors’ representatives, seized passports of CMC staffers and barred them from leaving the country. CMC officials had told the Post that they were returning to their country for Christmas. They were released when the Italian Embassy in New Delhi intervened, raising concerns over the restriction.

The Italian embassy wants to facilitate as an intermediary for resolving the dispute involving the Nepal government and the Italian contractor, Kandel told the Post.

A team led by Porcelli visited Nepal last year when the project was disrupted because of the contractor’s failure to follow the agreed action plan. In June 2018, the CMC team signed an agreement with the government to expedite Melamchi work after it had been stuck for months following the breakthrough in the last section of the tunnel.

Before leaving for their country last month, CMC officials had withdrawn the project termination letter and expressed their interest to lead the project to its completion. The government maintains that it wants the Italian firm to resume works as hiring a new contractor would delay the project by months.

The government’s target to divert water from Melamchi River in Sindhupalchok to Kathmandu by February 10 looks near impossible now.