Baglihar consultant firm blacklisted
The World Bank has blacklisted a German consultant firm that is advising India in the Indo-Pak dispute over the Baglihar hydel power project in Jammu and Kashmir.
A seven-year ban has been imposed on Lehmeyer International for their alleged involvement in corrupt practices in a 1997 case related to a project in Africa.The ban is accompanied with a warning that no country can hire their services during this period, particularly for the Bank-funded projects. This is the result of charges that Lehmeyer received pay-offs in the Losotho Highlands project.
Dr D V Thareja, commissioner (Indus), ministry of water resources, confirmed the blacklisting. He said that the ministry had tracked it down on the website of the World bank in November 2006, when the bank-appointed Swiss neutral expert Raymond Lafitte was hearing the Baglihar project dispute.
Subsequently, the ministry intimated the J&K Power Development Corporation about the development and cautioned it against engaging the German firm.
Significantly, Leymeyer International had helped India to prepare the case for its presentation before the Swiss expert. Lafitte had in turn given his ruling on February 12, 2007, which the experts in both the countries termed as a “win-win” verdict.
Thareja denied that the development would impact neither Lafitte’s ruling nor the progress of the project.
“The last meeting on Baglihar was held in November, 2006 without Leymeyer’s participation as they had completed their job in October,” he claimed.
A senior official of the state power corporation felt that the development would have no fall-out on the Baglihar project. “We had sought an explanation from the German consultant as part of the immediate corrective steps taken by the corporation” he said
Sources privy to developments in the Indus commission said Pakistan had protested against India utilizing the services of the German firm.
The state’s power development corporation was subsequently permitted by the water resources ministry to hire another German expert Dr Schwarz for a brief period to assist India in framing replies to Pakistan’s objections before the neutral expert.