Following allegations that a Rs 18-crore tube well project was swung in favour of a Haryana-based company by awarding it for ` 10 crore more than its estimated cost, the Punjab Water Resources Management & Development Corp (PWRM&DC) has come under scrutiny for thrice deferring the opening date for tender bids without citing any reason. According to official records accessed by HT, the tender floated by the corporation had stated that bids for construction of 37 tube wells should be sent by February 18, 2014. However, this was rescheduled to February 25 and then to March 11. The records showed PWRM&DC also issued a corrigendum in the same month, indefinitely postponing the opening date for the project tenders without assigning any reason.
The date for opening the tender bids of the 75 tube wells, which is the subject of the controversy, was also fixed for February 18. However, within two days the technical and financial bids for this project were cleared and the project was awarded to an Ambala firm, Super Engineers, on February 25. According to sources, the deal was finalised for Rs 28 crore, Rs 10 crore more than the project cost.
The sources added the swift approval of the contract to the company suggested the latter had been given undue preference as the procedure for clearing a project tender takes two to three weeks.
Earlier, PWRM&DC managing director Baldev Singh Chopra had reasoned that awarding the contract to a single company would help in speeding up work on construction of 280 tubewells in the state, work on which began in 2011, in order to meet the March 2015 deadline. However, according to the sources, this line of reasoning was questionable as a project for building eight tubewells in Hoshairpur, which was earlier given to the same company in 2012, had still not been completed.
However, Chopra said the dates for receiving the bids were postponed after the corporation revised its tender guidelines.
Meanwhile, Gurdarshan Singh, chairman of Gurnam Singh & Co, who filed a lawsuit against the corporation in the Punjab & Haryana High Court, said the tender floated by PWRM&DC for the 37 tubewells quoted lower rates as compared to that of the 75-tubewell project allotted to Super Engineers.