In a major embarrassment to the Chandigarh administration and Punjab government, a local court has freezed the bank account of Beant Singh Memorial Society for recovery of a builder’s dues, pending since 2002. The ambitious Beant Singh Memorial project is a joint venture of the Punjab government and Chandigarh administration and is being managed by Beant Singh Memorial Society, comprising officials of both the stakeholders as members.
The court directive comes after the Society failed to clear the outstanding bill of a Delhi-based construction company, Bhayana Builders Pvt Ltd, amounting to nearly Rs 1.98 crore.
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Jaisurya Jain, counsel of the construction company, said that for recovery of the amount, the court passed orders to freeze the bank account of the society at a nationalised bank in the city. The case is now listed for hearing on April 30, 2016.
The company was awarded contract for constructing the memorial in 1999 within a stipulated period of 24 months. The total contract amount was Rs 7.74 crore. However, the work was not completed before the deadline of February 28, 2001 and the company terminated the contract on May 23, 2003 after doing work of Rs 7.30 crore.
The company moved a petition for arbitration in 2002 and the arbitrator ruled in their favour in 2005. This was challenged by the society and but the case was lost. The company again moved for re-arbitrator in 2010, which was awarded in their favour in 2014. The award was again challenged by the society, but it lost. Thereafter, the company moved an execution petition in the court in September, 2015.
The company contended that initially the progress of work was satisfactory and through out the currency of the contract, not even a single showcase notice pointing out slow progress on the part of company was issued by the society.
The company claimed that the work progressed at a reasonable pace for the first 10 months. Thereafter, problems cropped up owing to shortage of funds. The company took up the matter with the society and assurance was given that adequate funds would be made available. However, when the company found there was no progress in terms of funds, they wrote several letters, but in vain. The society, in its defence, said the company failed to finish the project within the stipulated timeframe of 24 months.
The Memorial was designed by renowned architect Joseph Allen Stein of Stein Mani Chowfla.
Project marred by delays
The project, which started in 1999, in memory of the late former chief minister of Punjab Beant Singh, has been marred by delays. In nearly 17 years, only a library, Samadhi and open air theatre have been constructed. A sarvdharam repository, cafeteria, exhibition-and-multipurpose hall, guest house and convention centre are yet to come up.