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‘MTDC kept in the dark on Pinewood renovation’

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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, June 17: In a new twist to the controversy over allotment of contract for renovation of state-owned Pinewood hotel to an unregistered contractor, a Director of the MTDC (which runs the affairs of the hotel), has alleged that the board of MTDC was totally bypassed in this regard.
When contacted, MTDC Director Alan West Kharkongor told The Shillong Times on Monday that it would be “misleading” to say that the corporation has cancelled the contract since it has no role in the project.
He claimed that MTDC Chairman Sanbor Shullai and the two vice chairmen, Ricky Shullai and Bipen Pradhan were also kept in the dark about this project being funded and executed by the Meghalayan Age Limited (MAL).
He said the MTDC came to know about the project of renovation of Pinewood Hotel only during the joint inspection held in the last week of May where Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh was also present.
Kharkongor said they were surprised to see the architect from France, who was representing Rose Studio Private Limited, during the joint inspection.
Rose Studio Private Limited, which designed the Meghalayan Age Store in New Delhi, has been engaged as the design consultant for the renovation project of the hotel.
The MTDC director said no one could provide the details of the components of the project and the total project cost sought during the joint inspection.
He said that since the renovation work had already started, they were under the impression that the allotment of the contract to Singhania was done after following due procedure of calling tender.
“We were shocked to learn (from media reports) that the contract was allotted to Singhania without the tender,” Kharkongor said.
He further alleged that Rose Studio Private Limited also got the contract to do the design work directly from the MAL without calling tender.
He expressed resentment that none of the MTDC board members were taken into confidence before the project was initiated.
“We feel that everyone in the corporation should have been taken on board right from the conceptualisation stage. We need to know if any project is being undertaken involving the assets of the MTDC,” Kharkongor asserted.
He, however, said the MTDC welcomes financial support and funding from any government organisation including the MAL.
“But it should be done through the proper channel and there should be transparency to avoid any controversy,” he added.
Earlier, MTDC Managing Director Cyril V Diengdoh conveyed to the All Meghalaya Contractors’ and Suppliers’ Association the decision to cancel the work allotted to Singhania for dismantling and checking the stability of the wooden structure of Pinewood Hotel.
The association’s chief advisor, Gilbert Laloo, confirmed the work allotment’s cancellation.
He quoted Diengdoh as saying that the government will first finalise the detailed project report (DPR) for the renovation of the iconic hotel.
“An open tender will be floated once the DPR is completed. Now, all the eligible local contractors can participate in the open tender,” he said.
Stating that the association insisted on transparency, Laloo said they are happy to have achieved what they demanded. He, however, said Diengdoh could not share details of the total budget allocated for the proposed renovation project.
“We were unhappy”, he said, adding, “the work allotted to Singhania was done in a hush-hush manner”.
When contacted, MAL Chief Administrative Officer, Robert Lyngdoh said that they are only the funding agency and they have no role in floating of the tender or allotment of the contract.
He also clarified that any tender for the Pinewood Hotel renovation project will either be floated by the Tourism department or MTDC.

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