With just over a week for the ongoing edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB) to draw to a close, the cash-strapped Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) is in a sticky situation resulting from award of work worth crores of rupees without a contract document and is staring at the prospect of legal action by a contractor, who was accused by it of overcharging on work executed by his firm.
A legal notice dated March 18 sent to the KBF on behalf of Appu Thomas of Thomas Clery Infrastructures and Developers Pvt Ltd, which carried out a slew of structural, design and painting works at Aspinwall House and Cabral Yard — the main venues of the biennale — warns of criminal and civil proceedings against the foundation if an outstanding amount of ₹77,59,277 is not paid towards pending bills.
The notice also claims that the KBF owes other vendors a total of ₹45,75,315.
An independent, government-approved valuer engaged by the KBF in January to verify the bills had recommended a little over half of the amount claimed by the contractor.
A part of the bill verification report dated February 9, which has been accessed by The Hindu, shows that in place of bills worth ₹1,75,52,165 submitted by the contractor, the recommended amount was ₹92,45,108. He recommended paying just 45% of the labour bills standing at a staggering ₹70,70,161.
“In my opinion, [the] labour bill amount from various vendors claimed by the contractor is exorbitant, hence recommended only 45% of the total (sic),” the valuer remarked.
The valuer also cast aspersions on the way the bills were prepared.