The Nepal Army has awarded the contract for the sixth package of the Kathmandu-Terai-Madhesh Expressway to China First Highway Engineering, sidestepping an Indian firm, less than 10 days before the general elections in the country.

On November 11, the Nepal Army, which is in charge of the project, issued a letter of intent to China First Highway Engineering that was earlier disqualified in the tender but later made a backdoor entry despite lacking technical expertise, according to people in the know. The companies whose proposals have been rejected are preparing to approach court against the decision, ET has learnt.

India’s Afcons Infrastructure had also bid for the project. There are indications that the matter may now be taken up with Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba. The nature of the bidding process was less than transparent and it had raised eyebrows after the Chinese company was declared the bidder.

The construction was launched in 2017 and the new deadline to complete the project is July 2024. The Chinese company submitted a proposal of 18.786 billion Nepali rupees, while India’s Afcons Infrastructure submitted a bid for 19.99 billion Nepali rupees.

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