Govt to miss deadline for airports' modernisation

Updated on Jan 30, 2006 02:38 AM IST

With EGoM 'seeking a legal opinion' on RFP, it is unlikely that Govt will meet its deadline of awarding contract by Jan 31.

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None | ByHT Corporate Bureau, New Delhi

The government is set to miss the January 31 deadline for the modernisation of Mumbai and Delhi airports. As reported on Saturday by the Hindustan Times, the eGoM is to meet early next week subject to the availability of members to find a way to break the gridlock. Informed sources revealed that the EGoM is expected to seek  a legal opinion from the Attorney General on the issue of changes in the RFP (request for proposal) midway. Since two senior members of the EGoM have expressed serious reservations, a middle path of seeking a legal view has been proposed.

As the entire process is fraught with legal implications, the eGoM is expected to ask the Law ministry to seek a fresh opinion on the issue of changing the RFP midway. Moreover, the last meeting had decided to allow one bidder the first choice of both airports and to match the highest financial bid.

Against this backdrop, it is unlikely that the government will meet its deadline of awarding the contract by January 31. Sources said that the government would explore the alternative formula where technical marks scored will be given either equal weightage or 80 per cent weightage as prevalent in global markets and will simulate it with the financial bids. It is clear that the government’s best efforts to find an amicable solution to the problem have come unstuck. The AG’s view sought the first time round was on conflict of interest of two of the three advisors: financial — ABN Amro, and legal — Amarchand Mangaldas. Now with CVC guidelines clearly prohibiting any alteration in the stipulated tendering process, it remains to be seen what the AG’s view will be?

Interestingly, Abani Roy, member of Parliament, on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh questioning the validity of the whole process. The missive caustically mentions, “The E Sreedharan committee report is an ample proof of how a non-transparent manner was followed in the bidding process that finally led to only one bidder qualifying instead of two as concluded earlier.

Despite the shortcoming in the bidding process, the civil aviation ministry still deems it right to go ahead and complete the process in haste on the special plea of loss of valuable time as one of the prime concerns.

“Moreover, the rampant dilution of the qualifying marks at such a penultimate stage bear testimony of the whole process being tailor made to suit a certain set of bidders,” writes the MP. 

On the issue of one bidder being given a chance to match the highest financial bids, he states, “I strongly believe that financial bids submitted have been strictly in accordance with respective technical bids of the bidders. In such a scenario, how could the bidding process just allow a bidder with a specific technical bid to match a separate financial bid provided by some other bidder.”

The progress on the above issue ….is not only limited to non-transparency but is gradually snowballing into a major scam, he adds.

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