Pune’s garbage processing tender stinks of cartel; ‘match fixing,’ says CCI
Following a complaint from Nagrik Chetna Manch, an NGO of citizen-activists, the CCI conducted an enquiry and found that a bidders’ cartel was at work while filing the tender for the thermal composting garbage plants in 2014.pune Updated: Oct 09, 2017 23:42 IST
The tendering process for thermal composting garbage plants, carried out by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in 2014, has come under the scanner of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which has pointed out possible nexus between officials and contractors.
Following a complaint from Nagrik Chetna Manch, an NGO of citizen-activists, the CCI conducted an enquiry and found that a bidders’ cartel was at work while filing the tender for the thermal composting garbage plants in 2014.
The CCI in its report has passed strictures against the civic body while observing that the contractors and officers had telephonic conversations on multiple occasions and tender documents were uploaded through a computer belonging to the municipal corporation.
The commission prepared its report n November 2016 after verifying the telephonic communication. It pointed out that a nexus between the contractor and the municipal administration was evident given the telephonic conversation between an officer and the winning company’s director.
The tenders pertained to seven thermal composting plants at various locations including Kharadi, Ghole Patil road and Peshwe Park, and were worth ₹14 crore.
The commission in its report said that there was understanding “among the participants” to ensure that the tender went to Ecoman Enviro Solutions Pvt Limited. The same company has borne the cost of demand draft for the other participants, the CCI noted.
"The commission found out that the bidders used the same IP address for uploading documents for the tenders. And surprisingly this IP address is from a PMC-owned computer. The report also records that there are many telephone calls between the contact person and the director concerned with three officers of the PMC. It shows how the tender process goes in PMC," Maj Gen SCN Jatar (retd), president, Nagrik Chetna Manch, said while speaking to Hindustan Times.
Amidst the escalating crisis of solid waste management in Pune and opposition from Phursungi and Uruli Devachi residents to use the existing garbage depot, the Pune Municipal Corporation had decided to erect small capacity garbage processing plants in the city with a capacity of three to five metric tonnes per day.
Jatar pointed out that although this is just one case, it is indicative of how the online tendering process in the PMC can also be compromised.
The PMC’s Solid Waste Management department head, Suresh Jagtap, denied any nexus saying, “The competition commission of India officer visited the PMC and conducted the inquiry. What can the PMC do if the contractors have any understanding between themselves?”
Jagtap also refuted allegations of involvement of officials in the nexus. “Even if it is true that the phone records have been checked and the contractor has had a conversation with PMC officials, it is all on record. Usually contractors call for clarification if there is any doubt,” he added.
When asked about the PMC computer being used for filing the tender, Jagtap said, he was not aware about this as the tendering process is handled by the tender cell.
BOX: Established by the central government in October 2013, the competition commission of India (CCI) is governed by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007. The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or are likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India. It is headed presently by Devender Kumar Sikri and six members.