Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Paradip Port authorities have celebrated first anniversary of Mr. Narendra Modi’s regime with the exultation of compradors in matching manner. They have shown how urgent transaction of the Port could wait till the comprador’s choice is ready to be entertained in contravention of rules and norms. When promulgation of land ordinance is being repeated to help favorites step into their grazing grounds in absence of a regular law, why not urgent and participated tenders be kept inoperative under repetition of notices in Paradip Port, the seat of the Modi Government on the Orissa coast?
The Port, which had invited tenders for three Harbor Mobile Cranes (HMCs), has resorted to blatant manipulation to favor a particular firm that had no qualification to be considered. The entire matter is so murky that a CBI investigation is essential to locate why the Port has acted so motivated.
The Port Trust called for tender on revenue sharing basis for three HMCs vide Tender Enq. No. EM.WS.Tech-06 /13 dated 12.08.2014. The participants were: M/s Orissa Stevendores Limited with offer of 4.5% revenue sharing, followed by M/s Karam Chand Thapar & Bros. (CS) Ltd (3.79%) and M/s ACE Commercial & Company Ltd, which was disqualified under the Technical terms of the Port Trust. The tender was discharged by on 04.12.2014.
The tender was re-floated by the Port Trust vide Tender Enq. No. EM/WS/Tech – 06/13 (Vol-I) Dt. 04.12.2014, the same day for the same three numbers of HMCs on the same term of revenue sharing. The two firms – M/s Orissa Stevendores Limited and M/s Karam Chand Thapar & Bros. (CS) Ltd. participated again with offer of 4.5% and 3.79% revenue sharing respectively. OSL even offered to increase its revenue sharing to 5% from 4.5%. The tender was discharged on 13.02.2015.
But, immediately thereafter, on the same day, under mysterious pressure, as if the Port Trust was waiting for another firm to participate, the tender was floated again vide Tender Enq. No. EM/WS/Tech – 06/13 (Vol-II) Dt. 13.02.2015.
A surprising stipulation was added to the extent that the participants each shall install one crane only.
This time, four firms participated as against the same three notified requirements. They were: (1) M/s Orissa Stevendores Limited with the highest offer at 9% revenue sharing, (2) M/s ABC Trans Carries Pvt. Ltd. at 8.8%, (3) M/s Viable Infrastructure & Logistics Pvt. Ltd. at 8.7% and (4) M/s Bothra Shipping Services Pvt. Ltd. at 8.5%.
Bothra was thus at the lowest position and three firms positioned above it – in view of the added stipulation that one crane would be allowed to be installed by each one of the participants, Bothra should have been dismissed from the zone of consideration. But that did not happened. The Chairman of the Port Trust asked it to enhance its offer to the level offered by the H1: Orissa Stevendores Limited. Other two firms were also asked to do the same which they complied with. But the smoky tricks of rendering the earlier two tenders inconsequential became clear when Letter of Intent (LOI) was issued to all the four participants in blatant disregard to the fact that the Tender was floated for three HMCs only.
The surprise beneficiary is: Bothra Shipping Services Pvt. Ltd, which was the lowest in percentage of offer (8.5%).
Curiously, when the process of procuring an HMC from Germany takes at least six months, the Bothra Shipping Services Pvt. Ltd took only about 20 days and the ship carrying its crane was given priority passage and berthing despite a long wait-list of vessels. The whole issue appears predetermined to serve the Bothra.
Whether or not any ruling political top brass has acted a comprador for Bothra needs be investigated into. And, whether or not the conduct of Paradip Port Trust Chairman in giving Bothra the order for the fourth HMC, when tender was called for three HMCs only, is unauthorized and arbitrary, motivated by payola, needs also be investigated into.
It is incumbent upon Modi administration to locate the comprador, as the matter depicted here makes it clear that the favor shown to Bothra Shipping Services Pvt. Ltd is certainly not a normal transaction.