THE PRIVATISATION of special economic zone (SEZ) in Pithampur has been further delayed with the Industry Department deciding to invite fresh bids for finalising a strategic partner.
Sources said that the decision was taken in a meeting comprising senior officials of Industry Department, MPSIDC and MPAKVN yesterday.
The Board of Directors of SEZ Indore Ltd is expected to meet soon to give a formal burial to the old bidding process and decide upon the process to be adopted for inviting fresh bids. The Board will also decide whether to retain the present consultant Tata Consultancy Economic Services or to appoint a new one.
The State Government has formed a special purpose vehicle, SEZ Indore Ltd, and is looking for a strategic partner for majority participation in order to develop and manage the SEZ, which is being developed on 2,500 acres of land in two phases.
“The bids have been rejected on technical grounds,” said a senior MPAKVN official on condition of anonymity. “The process was as good as dead, and it was just a matter of time before fresh bids were invited.” The Government move comes at a time when there is growing concern about lack of infrastructure development in the SEZ. Industrialists have already voiced concern that delay in privatisation of SEZ could hit the exports from the region. A lot of money and effort have gone into the selection process without any definite outcome.
Says Pithampur Industrial Association President, Gautam Kothari, “the delay will send a wrong message to the industrialists waiting in the wings to invest in Pithampur. I don’t see any point in inviting fresh bids, as reputed companies have already been short-listed.”
Last year, SEZ Indore Ltd had appointed Tata Consultancy Economic Services as consultants and invited Expressions of Interest (EoI) from the private sector. Although reputed companies like Zoom Developers and Wartsila India Ltd were short-listed, none of these could be finalised as the strategic partner for one reason or another.
Among the key qualifying criteria, the prospective bidder must have a net worth at least of Rs 100 crore or $20 million during the last/preceding fiscal year. The bidding company must have exposure to at least one development or EPC infrastructure project with a total cost of Rs 200 crore during the last five years.
MPAKVN has already allotted land to as many as 17 companies so far. Out of these, five units have started construction and four units, namely SRF Ltd, Flexituff International Ltd, Emerald tobacco Ltd and Amulya Exports Ltd have begun commercial production.