Ludhiana, September 19
Extension of dates for opening of e-tenders for development works worth around Rs 22 crore twice by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT), from September 10 to 17 and then again from September 17 to 24, has raised many questions on the very system of e-tendering introduced by the government to bring about transparency in awarding contracts.
The LIT authorities had to extend the last date for submission of bids after an uproar by contractors that estimates for several high-value development works were not uploaded on the e-tendering website.
Though officials concerned of the LIT attribute this issue to procedural delay, in reality this fact has come to the fore that delay in uploading estimates simultaneously with floating e-tenders (a statutory requirement), has become a routine rather than an exception. And the delay was more often than not deliberate to create uncertainty and confusion among the intending bidders.
Highly informed sources maintain that of late, the senior official of the engineering branch of he LIT have made it a practice to float tenders without uploading estimates on the website.
“This is done to dissuade a large number of eligible contractors and construction agencies away from the bidding procedure and then award the work to politically-connected contractors on higher rates,” said the sources, adding that in this dubious game both LIT officials and political functionaries share the spoils.
Sanjeev Jain, who has a long-standing connection with government contracts, has lodged a complaint with the Principal Secretary, Local Government Department, Punjab, to hold an inquiry into the ‘rigged’ e-tendering procedures being followed in the LIT, fix responsibility of guilty officials and take stern disciplinary action for making the whole tendering system a farce.
Complaint against MC
Yet another complaint lodged with the government about state of affairs of e-tendering in Municipal Corporation indicates that the civic body is faring no better where following rules and regulations for e-tendering system is concerned. A city-based social activist, Ramesh Nayyar, has alleged in a complaint that certain contractors were submitting bogus/inflated turnover certificates for the past five years in complicity with MC officials for showing eligibility to offer bids for tenders worth over Rs 1 crore Fudged figures of pending works with civic bodies and other government departments were being produced by some contractors. Surprisingly, the MC officials did not care to cross-check the figures for obvious reasons.
The complaint stated that due to these manipulations, many contractors were awarded works way beyond their capacity which often led to delay, financial loss to the MC and avoidable inconvenience to the public.
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