Elusive forest contracts

Elusive forest contracts Indian foresters have been given the short shrift in the award of consultancy contracts worth Rs 1,2(Xi crore for World Bank (WB)-aided forestry projects in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and KeralaThe contracts have instead been given to the Finlandbased firm, Jako Poyray. While the firm will he directly involved with the projets in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, its New Zealand-based subsidian, Amzdec, will be the executing agent' in Kerala, wit .h help from the Delhi-based Tata Energy Research Institute.

K N Venkataraman, in charge of consultancy projects at the World Bank, says, "There is no rule under our consultancy guidelines that contracts should be awarded only to the local firnis. It is only on the basis of the recommended list made by the borrower that the final selection is made." The Bank is sceptical about Indian experts. "Let them first convince us that they can do it," says Venkataraman. WB sources admit that during appraisal meetings the Bank has repeatedly indicated its preference for international consultants.

The ministry of environment and forests (NIEF has, on its part, categorically denied influencing the decision. Says A K Mukherji, the former inspector general of forests, during'whose tenure this deal was finalised, "Once the shortlisted the prospective consultants, it was upto the World Bank to make the choice."