Arappor Iyakkam had alleged ‘fixing’ in ₹1.18 crore tender
The Greater Chennai Corporation on Tuesday said that it was cancelling the ₹1.18-crore contract awarded to a company for the annual maintenance of 419 battery-operated vehicles (BOVs).
The move followed a complaint by the non-governmental organisation Arappor Iyakkam, alleging “fixing” of tenders to favour a particular company.
The organisation said the conditions of the tenders were framed in such a way that only one company qualified in the technical bid while others, which included some manufacturers of BOVs, were rejected.
The tenders were floated as four separate packages in July 2021 and were finalised and awarded in September 2021 to Coimbatore-based Best and Fast Metal Fab, which was the only company to qualify for the technical bid and enter the financial bid.
According to Arappor Iyakkam, an “irrational” condition was imposed that the bidders should have supplied at least 50 vehicles on an average during three financial years from April 2016 to March 2019.
Jayaram Venkatesan, convenor of the organisation, said while it was common to expect experience in recent three years, it was strange that a period from 2016 to 2019 was mentioned.
“Many local bodies in the State began using battery-operated vehicles extensively only in the past three years. It is okay if there was an option of having experience either in the last three years or from 2016 to 2019. However, seeking experience only from 2016 to 2019 is done with an intention to eliminate other companies,” Mr. Jayaram Venkatesan alleged.
The organisation said that the recent financial year of 2020-2021 was excluded in the eligibility condition pertaining to annual turnover of the bidder.
Importantly, the organisation alleged that the awarding of the contract was in violation of the tender conditions relating to conflicts of interest and the Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tenders Act.
Appreciating GCC’s recent initiatives to bring transparency to the tender process, Arappor Iyakkam urged for stringent action against officials exploiting other loopholes to “fix” tenders.
Sources from GCC said that Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi had ordered cancellation of the contract based as preliminary inquiries confirmed the conflict of interest between two firms that took part in the bidding.
Meanwhile, a detailed inquiry would be conducted by Deputy Commissioner of Health Manish S. Narnaware to prevent such instances in the future and take appropriate action against those involved, including the contractor.
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