TIME SEEMS to be running out for Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav’s saree dream, now that the ball is in Election Commission court to anytime announce the Vidhan Sabha elections in the State.
Now, even if everything is put in top gear, chances are more that Yadav’s dream of distributing two sarees each to 1.25 BPL women may still take two months to materialize. And if the EC announces polls in between, all plans are bound to go for a six.
The sarees were supposed to be distributed between November 20 and November 25, a task that now looks virtually impossible. Already the high-power committee appointed to open technical bids has rejected all the tenders on one ground or the other.
On its part, the government machinery is trying its bit. In the hurry to get the job done fast, senior officers entrusted with the task have now not only relaxed the terms and conditions of what was the ‘toughest ever’ tender documents but have also ‘compromised’ on the quality and ‘quantity’ to enable some more suppliers/ private parties which could not meet the strict conditions of the earlier tender document.
The minimum length and width of the saree, as per the earlier tender document, was five metres (plus minus five centimetres) and 112 centimetres respectively. This has now been reduced in the new tender document to 4.85 metres and 108 centimetres. It has been done on the plea that in Surat, the biggest polyester saree manufacturing centre in the country, the normal length and width of a saree is 4.80 metres to 4.85 metres and 108 centimetres. The amended tenders would appear in newspapers on November 17 and they would be opened on December 7. Then it would take not less than a month to supply the saree from factory/supply points to each district after thorough multi-layer quality checks at various points.
Also, the order is so huge that it would obviously not be possible for any single supplier to provide the total stock.
And dealing with so many suppliers would obviously make things more complicated and cumbersome for the ‘buyer’. Yet another major problem is sudden increase in the number of beneficiary BPL women from 1.25 crore to 1.50 crore. It means now the number of sarees required for the project also goes up from 2.50 crores to three crores making the job mighty difficult.
It was detected after analysis of data submitted by district magistrates that the number of families covered under the BPL scheme and under the Antyodaya Scheme is 1.06 crores in the state, in which the estimated number of women is 1.50 crores, 25 lakh more than the last calculation. As a result, now plans are afoot to buy three crore sarees instead. As of now, orders are, however, being placed for supply of only 2.50 crore sarees in the amended tender.
A senior officer involved in the ‘shopping extravaganza’ told the HT that a performance guarantee of 10 per cent was demanded in the previous tender document. This had now been reduced to five per cent. They had also been allowed to include 2 per cent of the earnest money also in the performance guarantee effectively bringing down the guarantee from 10 per cent to three per cent. Certain other major relaxation made in the new tender documents are:
The clause of providing details of last three years’ bank accounts with photocopy of passbooks has been abolished. Now the prospective suppliers have been asked to provide Income Tax returns, Sales Tax details and balance sheets of the last only two years instead of three years.