Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Maharashtra tells BMC

Evict 'encroachers' from schools:

The state government has instructed the BMC to evict private institutions and organizations illegally occupying space in its schools.

Nearly 620 organizations have been asked to vacate or face action, said minister of state (urban development) Uday Samant. During a debate in the council, members alleged that the trusts and organizations run by politicians.

'State apathy' drives bidder out of race for Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link project

MUMBAI: The IRB-Hyundai consortium on Wednesday withdrew from the bidding race for the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link project citing its "unfortunate" experience with the government in past projects.

The move came just five days ahead of the final bid competition for the 22-km sea link that will connect Sewri and Nhava.

Four consortia now remain in the fray: CINTRA- SOMA-SREI, Gammon-OHL Concessions-GS Engineering, GMR-L&T Ltd-Samsung, and Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd-Autostrade-Vinci Concessions. The bid submission is on August 5.

The cost of the project has risen from Rs 6,000 crore in 2005 to Rs 9,630 crore in 2013.

IRB chairman V D Mhaiskar said the state's role in big-ticket projects was highly "unfriendly" for investors. "In public private partnership projects, government backing plays a crucial role. Our experience is unfortunate. We invested Rs 500 crore in the Kolhapur infrastructure project but even after two years of its completion we are unable to recover the money through toll due to various reasons directly attributed to government apathy," Mhaiskar said.

Mhaiskar said his firm had written to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which had proposed to build the MTHL, stating that it would not be able to participate in such state projects after its experience and the overall discouraging scene for capital-intensive projects.

MMRDA spokesman Dilip Kawathkar said the authority had received the withdrawal letter from the IRB. He said other shortlisted bidders would be submitting their bids by August 5.

MMRDA sources said they would still wait for the bid from IRB and several other companies who wanted to participate in the competition for the multi-crore project.

The Centre announced its Rs 1,920 crore investment in the project besides the shares of state government and the MMRDA. The Centre has already renewed the environment clearances for the project.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

6,000 CCTV cameras across the city. delay

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has seized the security deposit of the contractor who cheated it into accepting a false financial instrument for the CCTV surveillance network project in Mumbai. It no longer wants to file an FIR against the contractor since the management is "untraceable".

Sai InfoTech Systems had submitted a cheque of over Rs 2 crore as deposit for a bank guarantee after reaching an agreement with the state. But the cheque bounced, prompting the government to contemplate, for a while, action under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.

"At present, the case does not merit an FIR under the Negotiable Instruments Act, so we have seized the security deposit. We think it is better to channel our energies on negotiating with the second bidder, instead of going after this contractor," said a senior home department official.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had hinted in the ongoing assembly session that the CCTV project's fate hangs in the balance. The government is now looking to explore an alternative model, preferably along the lines of the one being adopted in Delhi.

In the interim, it is negotiating with the second bidder, AGC, which submitted an offer of around Rs 1,000 crore for the estimated Rs 864-crore CCTV surveillance cover for Mumbai. Sai InfoTech Systems "under-quoted the bid at Rs 700 crore," officials said.

This was the second time the government had called tenders for the installation of 6,000 CCTV cameras across the city. Experts believe the delay in the project's implementation, coupled with inflation, is bound to escalate costs. Potential bidders were concerned about the limitation of liability as there is an unspecified quantum of penalty for not meeting service level agreements. The project is considered difficult to execute because it requires skills related to information technology, telecom, infrastructure and project management, said officials, while adding that several clauses have restricted the participation of telecom companies.