Bangalore: The Union government-owned Paradip Port has invited fresh price bids from shortlisted and security-cleared bidders for developing and operating two terminals.
Authorities plan to build a Rs479.01 crore, 10 million tonnes (mt) capacity a year terminal for handling coal, and another Rs591.35 crore, 10mt capacity a year terminal for handling iron ore.
The decision follows a Orissa high court ruling last week in favour of a consortium led by Hong Kong-based commodity trader Noble Group Ltd, which said it had not been given enough time to submit the price quotations. The consortium comprises Mumbai-listed Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd and state-owned commodity trader MMTC Ltd.
The consortium was given security clearance by the defence and home ministries on 2 March, two days before the shortlisted entities were asked to submit price bids for the terminals.
The ministries had earlier denied the mandatory security clearance to the consortium because of its alleged Chinese connection. Chinese companies or groups with Chinese connections are banned from bidding for port projects in India.
Noble had argued that it was neither a Chinese firm nor had any links with China. The firm said it was owned by Americans and non-resident Indians.
When Paradip Port was informed of the security clearance, the deadline for submitting the price bids was barely 24 hours away.
“We made a representation to Paradip Port asking for an extension of time because it was practically impossible to submit price quotations for a Rs1,070 crore project in a span of just 24 hours,” Parvez Umrigar, managing director, Gammon Infrastructure, said by phone from Mumbai.
Paradip Port, Umrigar said, didn’t consider the request. “It hurried up the process, invited price bids, and opened the price bids and even recommended award of contract to the highest bidder.”
The consortium then approached the high court. The court ruling last week said it was impossible for an entity to submit price bids in 24 hours. It also directed the port to invite fresh price bids giving bidders at least three weeks to submit quotations, Umrigar said.
Following the court directive, Paradip Port has asked all the security-cleared bidders to submit fresh price quotations for both terminals by 15 April, Umrigar said.