First stones,now furniture. India is yet again set to miss its target of handing over Afghanistans parliament building by the end of this year.
In the rush to finish the project,the Central Public Works Department (CPWD),which has been entrusted with the task of constructing the building,apparently forgot that the parliament will also need furniture. It was only after the Afghan authorities refused to accept the building without furniture that the CPWD started looking for options.
According to the CPWD,the demand for furniture came up at the last moment. But a senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs said this clause was always there in the contract. How can they expect to hand over a building without putting in place the furniture? Where will the Afghan parliamentarians sit and hold their proceedings? They cannot carry on their work without basic infrastructure, said a senior MEA official.
A senior CPWD official,however,said,We were asked only to construct the building. We were never asked to provide the furniture. This is going to take more time and we will not be able to hand over the building to them by the end of this year.
Earlier,the Afghans had insisted on using the locally available Samangam stones,which held up the project as it could not be sufficiently mined in the trouble-hit area. The insistence on using the Sama-ngam stone was sorted out but it delayed the project, said the official.Apprehending trouble after the NATO pullout in March 2014,India wanted to hand over the parliament building to Afghanistan much before that. But the project has missed several deadlines so far and its cost has also shot up from Rs 200 crore to Rs 750 crore now. India is constructing the building for free.