The Chennai Port Trust on Monday rejected the Vadinar Terminal Ltd and Essar Port and Terminal Ltd (VOTL) revenue-sharing offer of 5.25 per cent, for the proposed mega container terminal project, and, instead, will seek rebid from the Request for Qualification (RFQ) bidders.

According to official sources, the proposed move will turn back the clock by at least 15 months, wherein five firms had evinced interest to construct the Rs. 3,686-crore project. The project has been delayed for various reasons such as poor response from the qualified bidders, economic slowdown, low revenue-sharing ratio offered by the qualified bidder and another bidder failing to get national security clearance on time.

In its last attempt, ChPT received two bids: from VOTL and Adani Port Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) for the mega container terminal. ChPT accepted VOTL’s bid as it had complied with the norms, while the unopened bid of APSEZ was sent back as it failed to get security clearance.

VOTL had offered a revenue share of 5.25 per cent slightly higher than the offer made by APSEZ in the earlier attempt. Unhappy with the revenue-sharing pattern, ChPT officials asked VOTL to increase the bid.

Meanwhile, APSEZ represented to the Shipping Ministry, expressing concern over the delay in getting security clearance, even though they were one of the major port operators in the country. The Shipping Ministry, in turn, approached the Union Home Ministry and asked ChPT not to award the project to VOTL. The security clearance for APSEZ was accorded recently.

“As we had already sent back the bid of APSEZ, we did not want to accept it. The revenue share offered by VOTL was low and we asked them for an increase. However, they have replied that they have given the highest bid and were not in a position to offer more than that. Hence, the board rejected VOTL’s offer and will invite RFQ firms to rebid. The RFQ was issued in 2010 and Requests for Proposal in January 2011. The security clearance of APSEZ was pending for more than a year. We have lost significant amount of time,” the official said.

ChPT Chairman Atulya Misra said the board has decided to seek fresh bids from the five RFQ bidders, as the last bid could not be completed. Now the bidder has to quote above 5.25 per cent as revenue share.

All the five RFQ bidders have got security clearance from the Union Home Ministry, he added.

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