New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh is yet to declare the winner of the Rs30,000 crore Ganga Expressway project, but at least two bidders are complaining about the unfairness of the selection process for the biggest highway project in the country.
The firms claim the evaluation criteria were changed during the final stages.
In a letter written to the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority, or UPEIDA, the regulator set up by the state government for this project, Zoom Developers Pvt. Ltd has claimed it had bid the lowest amount for the second package.
The contract is divided into four packages, or stretches. Bidders were allowed to either bid for individual stretches or a combination. There were initially 18 bidders for the project, though only five submitted financial bids.
The company’s allegation is that despite it having the lowest bid in a particular stretch, UPEIDA considered Jaypee Infratech Ltd, a subsidiary of Jaiprakash Associates, for a combined package, including all four sections of the mega project.
This, despite the fact that Jaypee Infratech had initially bid for the four stretches separately and even submitted four bank guarantees. Zoom Developers’ executive director Satish Rastogi said the same bank guarantees were later used by Jaypee Infratech to bid for the entire package.
On Monday, media reports said the bids for all the four stretches had been won by Jaypee Infratech.
“We understand that the lowest bidder in combine(d) packages is being considered by the hon. committee with the total of the lowest bids of all the four packages individually,” said the letter written by Zoom Developers and addressed to Ravindra Singh, chief executive of UPEIDA.
The company has alleged that the bid proposal was amended two days before the financial bids were to be opened on 13 January and that this was not conveyed to all the bidders. Zoom Developers’ argument is that any such evaluation of these bids is legally invalid and cannot be applied as it went against the initial evaluation criteria issued by the state government.
Jaypee Infratech did not return calls or reply to an email sent to its office. A spokesperson for Reliance Energy Ltd, one of the five final bidders, declined comment.
A senior executive with one of the other companies who did not wish to be identified claimed that it too had written to UPEIDA saying that initial rules set for the bidding had been violated.
Singh of UPEIDA denied the allegations and said that all bidders who had submitted their financial bids had been offered the benefit of trying to bid for the package as a whole and that no company had been singled out for preferential treatment. “The decision applies to all bidders who bid severally (separately for each stretch),” said Singh.
According to the officer, the bid evaluation committee had submitted its recommendations to the chief secretary’s empowered committee which will in turn forward these to the state’s cabinet which will award the project. Singh declined to indicate a time-frame for this process.
“Jaiprakash Associates did offer the lowest bid, followed by Reliance Energy The others like Gammon India, Unitech and Zoom Developers were far behind,” Atul Kumar Gupta, the state’s industrial development commissioner, told Reuters.
Shares of Jaiprakash Associates surged about 5% on the Bombay Stock Exchange to close at Rs468.60 each on the media reports.
Ashish Sharma, PTI and Reuters contributed to this story.