TAMIL NADU

Irrigation projects: 9 firms shortlisted

HYDERABAD, AUG. 14. Marking a departure from the established tender system, the Government has selected nine companies on `pre-qualification basis' to take up the 26 pending irrigation projects.

The choice for completing these projects narrowed down to nine companies, labelled as the only parties to execute the projects, costing Rs. 26,000 crores. They are IVRCL, Sew & Prasad, Maytas-NCC, Progressive Constructions, Hyderabad, L & T, Chennai, Hindustan Constructions, Gammon (India), Patel Engineering-Soma, Skanska Cementation, Mumbai, and Jayaprakash-Gayathri.

The action is said to be motivated by the need to complete the projects within five years and thus ensure early benefits. The nine companies have been clubbed into a panel. Selection will be on the lowest tender and completion on a turn-key basis. The task will include detailed investigation, engineering procurement and construction.

Eyebrows raised

Eyebrows have been raised against the new policy, laying down qualifications to companies/contractors to join the panel.

The "pre-qualifications" were that they must have executed any single work involving Rs. 100 crores during the last five years or must have handled a Rs. 400-crore turnover during any two years of the period. In all, 24 parties from all over the country responded to the call and the Government shortlisted nine.

Tenders

The "pre-qualified tenders" ran into rough weather with the Telugu Desam, which said that the process had limited the scope of participation to the exclusive benefit of the few, eliminating small and marginal contractors.

The old system, it said, split a major work into packages in which small firms could participate. "The new policy makes big people bigger and the small ones smaller," it is argued.

50 packages

An official spokesman, however, said the `small people' had not been fully excluded. The selected company will, by rule, form a partnership venture by roping in two smaller contractors of its choice for the job.

Sub-contractors

The smaller contractors, in turn, are expected engage sub-contractors.

The 26 projects have been split into 50 packages for the execution, excluding Penna-Ahobilam Balancing Reservoir II and Handri-Neeva.

Official sources maintained that the Telugu Desam Government too employed the turn-key concept with respect to Devadula, Pulichintala and Tadipudi projects and that Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra were able to complete many projects by this method.

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