Eyebrows raised as Haryana sits on purchase process for PM’s flagship drinking water projects

Is the Haryana government delaying the purchase of water pipes for Jal Jiwan Mission and Atal Mission for drinking water supply in rural and urban areas to accommodate a particular firm which could not participate in tender process earlier? A report by Pawan Kumar Bansal

The issue of purchase of water pipes by the Haryana government for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s prestigious projects, Jal Jiwan Mission and Atal Mission for providing drinking water in rural and urban areas is getting murkier by the day as process for purchase of pipes, is being delayed to accommodate a particular firm so that the company can participate in tender process and Public Health Department pressing for early purchase so that target could be achieved in time.

The company is unable to participate in tender process as its papers are incomplete. The company, M/s Rashmi Metaliks Ltd. has filed a case in Punjab and High Court against the Haryana Government and others praying for directions to the Haryana government to consider their case for participating in the tender process. The case is fixed for November 21, 2022.

On October 10, 2022 a meeting of High Powered Purchase Committee was held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Manohar Lal for finalising the tender for purchase of D.I. water pipes worth Rs 1250 crores. M/s Jindal Saw Ltd, New-Delhi, M/s Electrotherm India Ltd.Ahmedabad, M/s Electrosteel Castings Ltd, Kolkata and M/s Jai Bala Ji Industries Ltd. Kolkata participated in the negotiation process. M/s Rashmi  Metaliks Ltd, whom  a powerful politician wanted to accommodate could not participate in the above meeting as its papers were not complete .

To the utter surprise and shock of the members of the High Powered Purchase Committee including A.K.Singh, Additional Chief Secretary of Public Health Engineering Department, which is supposed to carry out the programme of providing drinking water in rural and urban areas, the chairman of the committee, Chief Minister Manohar Lal decided in anticipation with the indenting department to purchase the D.I pipes  valued at Rs.250 crores minimum and Rs,300 crores  maximum excluding GST instead of the whole quantity of D.I pipes  worth Rs 1250 cores and  also decided to re-invite the tender for D.I. pipes of all sizes with revised condition of debarring/blacklisting in northern India.

The officers were pressing for clearing the tender for whole amount of  Rs 1250 crores so that target could be achieved in time as it is prestigious and dream project of PM.Narendra Modi.

Transport Minister Mool Chand Sharma, Anoop Dhanak, Minister of State for Labour and Employement, Anurag Rastogi. ACS, Finance Department, Mohammed Shayin, Director General Supplies and Disposal, and Asheim Khanna, Engineer-in-Chief of Public Health Department, were present in the meeting, the copy of which is in possession of Tehelka.

In the meeting, the representatives of the indenting departments also informed the committee that the indented item is urgently required within two months, and accordingly the committee asked all the bidders to supply the ordered quantities within two months and all the bidders agreed to supply the ordered quantities within two months. This indicates clearly that pipes were urgently needed by the department for completing the target in time. Meanwhile the tender for the purchase of pipes worth Rs 950 crores is still pending. Highly placed official sources told Tehelka that Chief Minister Manohar Lal cleared the file for holding meeting of the High Powered Purchase Committee for purchase of water pipes amounting Rs 950 crore.

Prior to participating in the meeting of the High Powered Purchase Committee, indenting  firms or companies participate  in the meeting of  the Grievance Redressal Committee for showing their documents. Meeting of the Grievance Redressal Committee was held on  September 6, 2022 under the chairmanship  of Additonal Chief Secretary of  Industries and Commerce Department to finalize the representation /grievances  received from the participating bidders . In this meeting, M/s Rashmi Metaliks Ltd. has also made its representation.

Rashmi Metaliks Ltd. in their technical bid failed to submit an affidavit regarding blacklisting/debarring/disqualifying and disallowing of the firm as per mandatory condition No.C-13 of NIT. In the meeting of technical committee, an opportunity was given to M/s Rashmi Metaliks Ltd to re-submit correct affidavit strictly as per condition of NIT.

M/s Rashmi Metaliks Ltd. again submitted an affidavit regarding blacklisting /debarring/disqualifying and disallowing of the firm without mentioning – “within last three year” which is not as per conditon of NIT and the same was also admitted by the firm in the meeting of technical committee held on July 13, 2022. Accordingly, the proceedings of the Technical Committee were closed. Further, it was observed that there is condition in the NIT that in case of non-submission of required eligibility documents, the bid of the firm will not be considered and no further chance will be given for the submissions of these documents.

Rashmi Metaliks Ltd. is pulling all strings for getting the rules diluted so that it can participate in tendering process.

Efforts to contact M/s Rashmi Metaliks Ltd. bore no result. Sanjiv Kumar Sinha, authorised spokesman of the company, neither picked up the phone nor replied to text message seeking his comments. Considering the sensitive nature of the case, officers are reluctant to talk.

It is interesting to mention here that the meeting of the Grievance Redressal Committee held under the chairmanship of  Additional Chief Secretary of Industries and Commerce  Department has made following obserations.

“DI Pipes are largely buried deep in ground and are part of invisible public infrastructure having an expected life cycle of fifty years. These pipes of various sizes are to be used in the prestigous and very important  public projects of Jal Jiwan Mission and  Atal Mission for rejuvenation and urban transformation  in rural and urban areas for drinking water purpose. Therefore quality of pipes to be procured is of utmost importance. The firms who are having quality  issues in the past and do not have an unblemished  track record cannot be allowed to be considered in  the public interest.”

Earlier, the case of M/s.Rashmi Metalics Ltd. against Haryana government and others was scheduled for hearing in the Punjab and Haryana High Court  for 3rd November, 2022 and the company was expecting some relief from the court which could have allowed it to participate in the tender process, but due to strike of lawyers on that day, the case was adjourned for November 25. The powerful politicians who wanted to accomodate M/s Rashmi Metalics Ltd is pressurising the officers for dilution in conditions to facilitate its participating in the tender process. Shockingly in this game, the work is suffering due to delay in supply of the pipes.