Madras HC stops Tangedco from opening bids for coal import tender worth ₹ 1,330 crore

However, this allows it to issue a surplus and extend the deadline for submission of bids by 15 more days.

The Madras High Court on Tuesday barred the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangdeco) from opening the technical commercial and price bids received for a tender of ₹ 1,330 crore for the supply of 20 lakh tonnes of imported steam coal of any origin. Kamarajar port at Ennore near here between 2021 and May 2022.

Justice B. Pugalendhi instructed Bidedeco to postpone the opening date of the bid, which is originally scheduled for Tuesday, until he passes the necessary order on a writ petition, which challenged the tender notification issued on 8 February that Bids should be made from domestic bidders within 15 days for payment of ₹ 13 crore or $ 1,756,757 by foreign bidders, towards earnest money deposit.

The judge granted liberty to Tangedco to issue a counter-notification and extend the deadline for bidding by 15 more days, if advised to do so. The interim orders were passed on a writ petition filed by a private firm, claiming that granting a minimum of 30 days for submission of bids for such high value tenders was a statutory requirement.

Senior advocate Satish Parasaran, representing the petitioner company, said that for Rule 20 of the Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tender Rules. For tenders of more than 2 crores, minimum time required is 30 days to submit bids. However, the letter and sentiment was not adhered to even though the call was made by Tagedco for a tender of rule 1,330 crore.

In its affidavit, the petitioner company alleged that TANGEDCO was showing haste in finalizing the tenders, without calling for a pre-emptive meeting, “probably due to the imminent announcement of the model code of conduct for the upcoming assembly elections.” The need for coal imports also came as a surprise in May when wind energy production would be at its peak.

Claiming that the thermal power stations would be closed during the month of May, the petitioner said: “As this is the case, there is no reason for calling with such undue haste by abolishing all the tender norms of the present tender is.” It was also claimed that the terms of the tender were so much that they would forgo the participation of Indian firms and promote only foreign bidders.

On the other hand, Advocate General Vijay Narayan questioned the consistency of the writ petition and said that a company which was not qualified to participate in the bidding process cannot be allowed to question the tender. He said that the petitioner company has not given any details about its eligibility in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition.

He said that only companies with a turnover of any 335 crores in any one financial year between 2017-18 and 2019-20, who have supplied five lakh tonnes of imported steam coal to public sector undertakings or any private power utilities Were eligible to submit their bids for tenders worth ₹ 1,330 crore over the years.

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