Think carefully before blacklisting private construction firms as there are very few reputed ones available to execute big-ticket infrastructure projects, such as the metro. This seems to be the latest diktat from the urban development ministry to metro rail corporations across the country.
Citing shortage of reputed construction firms in India, the ministry had withdrawn its June 7 circular where it had directed the eight metro rail corporations across India to not only immediately inform the ministry about firms that have been debarred/blacklisted by them but also put the information on its website. Firms that have been blacklisted in the last 5-10 years by one organisation are disqualified from bidding for other metro projects.
The backdrop for the June 7 letter was a decision of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to debar two firms - Gammon and Afcons Infrastruc-ture - after they were held responsible for two major accidents at metro sites at Zamrudpur in 2009 and Laxmi Nagar in 2008 that claimed eight lives.
Following the debarment, DMRC had held that its action was an internal decision not tantamounting to "blacklisting" and also not binding on metro rail corporations elsewhere.
However, the ministry rejected this and issued an order on June 7 stating, "…action of suspension/banning of business by any one organization, even if done for that particular organization, would have an impact on the credentials of the firm for consideration in other organisations." DMRC refused to comment on the issue.
On October 25, the ministry, in a complete turn around, withdrew its earlier order and issued a fresh one which says: "There are very few reputed construction companies in India and a harsh interpretation may lead to a situation where not many firms would be left to choose from."