Bangalore: Security clearance granted to a company bidding for port projects and those taking up dredging work in India will be valid for three years, according to new norms framed by the government on security clearance for bidders.
The new norms for processing security clearance of bidders for port projects including dredging projects at union government-controlled ports is aimed at expediting award of projects being developed through the so-called public-private-partnership (PPP) route.
The new security clearance mechanism will also apply to port projects being developed by coastal states as well as private ports that were hitherto outside the scope of this.
Clearance for the engagement of foreign personnel for port-related work will be given by the home ministry.
According to the practice followed so far, price bids for port contracts are opened only after pre-qualified bidders are granted security clearance by union government ministries such as home, defence, Intelligence Bureau, external affairs and Cabinet Secretariat. Such clearances are sought on a project-to-project basis. This system will continue.
Since 1997, Chinese companies or groups with Chinese connections have been barred from bidding for Indian port projects by the union cabinet committee on security grounds because of the shifting political relationship between the two countries.
But of late Indian groups such as Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) and Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd have been denied security clearance for some projects and granted clearance for certain other projects.
According to the new guidelines, the shipping ministry will also separately circulate a list of all Indian and foreign companies that normally bid for port projects to the security agencies concerned. The security agencies will provide their inputs on such a list to the shipping ministry within 12 weeks.
“Once security clearance is accorded by the shipping ministry to any company based on inputs from the relevant ministries/departments/organizations for any port project, such clearance in respect of the company would be valid for three years,” said the new guidelines, posted on the website of the shipping ministry Friday.
However, during this period, if the companies that are granted security clearance undergo a change in management control and/or a change of a shareholder with more than 10% shares, such companies will have to inform the shipping ministry about the changes within two weeks or risk facing withdrawal of the security clearance.
“In case, as a result of any change, if any security concern is raised in the course of enquiry, the shipping ministry would immediately take necessary action on the findings,” the guidelines said.
The same procedure will apply for dredging companies.
“As more than one-third of India’s shipping trade takes place through non-major ports (not controlled by the union government), security clearance is essential for non-major ports, including private ports, set up in PPP mode in the state sector due to the sensitiveness of the port sector. Accordingly, all states and union territories will also have to seek necessary security inputs for new projects being developed by them,” according to the new guidelines.