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Unarmed combat

The violence of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba’s 2008 attack on Mumbai, shook the dust off — and exposed — chinks in the country’s security apparatus at multiple levels, reports Shailendra Mohan.

mumbai Updated: Feb 08, 2010 01:14 IST
Shailendra Mohan

The violence of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba’s 2008 attack on Mumbai, shook the dust off — and exposed — chinks in the country’s security apparatus at multiple levels.

One of those levels was the Mumbai Police, whose poor combat-readiness – both on specialist manpower and equipment — was suddenly no longer a secret. As a response, they showed fresh interest in the acquisition of the Total Containment Vehicle (TCV) — after letting the original tender for this bomb disposal vehicle gather dust for four years.

Today, the TCV itself is gathering dust at a supplier’s warehouse, new and completely unusable because the police refuse to pay its Rs 6.24 crore sticker price.

While no official comment was available, sources in the state home ministry and Mumbai police said the purchase was stalled because the police feel the supplier overpriced the vehicle. The state government has ordered an enquiry.

It began in 2006, when the office of the deputy commissioner of police (HQ I), invited tenders for the purchase of one TCV. The tender stayed frozen for almost two years, until the 2008 attack. On January 1, 2009, the department wrote to Techno Trade Impex India – which had participated in the 2006 tender – if it could still supply the TCV at the original rate.

The company agreed. On March 23, 2009, the DCP’s office wrote to them with terms on payment and delivery period (stipulated at 30 days) – these terms, including the price of Rs 6.24 crore, were also agreed on.

On March 28, 2009, the Home department recommended to the police commissioner the purchase of one TCV.

Three days later, the DCP’s office sent the supplier an “Acceptance of Tender”. The supplier claims to have even offered an additional feature (gas tight option, see box) in the TCV at no extra cost. On May 8, 2009, the supplier was issued a Customs Duty Exemption certificate.

A day later, however, the police sent the supplier a notice asking why the order should not be cancelled, after the discovery of a difference in price, between the TCV being supplied to the Mumbai Police and those already supplied to Mumbai International Airport Limited and Delhi International Airport Limited by Instasol LLC, a US-based company.

Bimal Agarwal, director of Techno Trade Impex, told Hindustan Times that he sourced his TCV from Instasol.

“MIAL and DIAL paid Rs 3.68 crore and 4.25 crore respectively to the company. And they brought their TCV by sea, which is a lot cheaper. They also bore other expenses like VAT, taxes and Customs Duty, which when added to the price works out to almost the same as my price,” he claimed.

Agarwal said the TCV landed in Mumbai on May 28, 2009, and is now lying unused in his warehouse. He has threatened to charge interest on his outstanding payment.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) Bhagwant D More refused to comment saying he was unaware of the case. DCP (HQ I) Vijay Singh Jadhav also refused comment, saying he was unaware of the current status of the deal.