Bhopal AIIMS construction firm moves Delhi HC for relief

Updated July 28, 2020

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New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has sought the Central government's reply on a petition filed by a real estate firm, involved in construction of AIIMS Bhopal, seeking release of its bank guarantees of over Rs 30 crore pursuant to the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat programme.

A single judge bench of Justice V. Kameshwar Rao on Tuesday issued notice to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, asking it to file the response within four weeks on the petition by JMC Projects (India) Ltd. The bench has slated the matter for further hearing on September 16.

During the course of the hearing, petitioner's counsel advocate Manoj Kumar Singh prayed before the court that the validity of the milestone bank guarantee of Rs 7.63 crore, which is expiring on July 31, should be extended till September 30.

In May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan in which a special economic package of Rs 20 lakh crore was announced for making the country self-reliant and also to help in empowering the poor, labourers, and migrants adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In order to support the real estate sector, it was stated that an extension of six months will be given on registration and completion dates of all registered projects expiring on or after March 25, without individual applications, and this can be further increased by three more months at the discretion of the regulatory authorities.

It was further announced that partial bank guarantees will also be released by government agencies to ease cash flows.

The petitioner company said that it has given three bank guarantees of Rs 12.71 crore, Rs 12.71 crore and Rs 7.63 crore to the authorities.

In its petition, filed through Singh and Associates, it stated that on August 12, 2010, it had entered into a contract with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for construction of AIIMS Hospital Complex at Bhopal Package II, and the commencement and completion dates were September 10, 2010 and September 9, 2012, respectively.

While the virtual completion certificate has been issued only in October 2019, the hospital has been functional since January 2013, the plea claimed. "Presently, the project is under the defect liability period of 12 months. JMC has already raised its claim of more than Rs 140 crore, which is under dispute resolution process," it said.

The petitioner also alleged that with the outbreak of Covid-19, a nationwide lockdown was imposed in March and considering the deep economic impact of the pandemic, the government introduced several policy decisions to mitigate these.

"The petitioner as soon as being aware of the situation, wrote various communications to the respondent (authorities) inter alia intimating the respondent about the Covid-19 and its impact," the plea said adding that JMC sought for release of its bank guarantees pursuant to the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat. However, AIIMS Bhopal did not take any step regarding this and did not even respond to the various mails.

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