As the day approaches to submit the tender for ‘High Security Registration Number Plate (HSRP) Project’, dna has got access to some documents showing how the state’s bid conditions are grossly flawed. This may be a warning as it indicates that the project may get derailed after its implementation.
The Association of Registration Plates Manufacturers of India (ARPMI) wrote to the chief minister and the transport commissioner about this in a letter dated August 9. “The state should ask for a minimum experience of work from the bidders to ascertain the genuineness of a bidder…We would like to mention that states such as Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana and union territories like Pondicherry had also not prescribed the eligibility condition for a minimum experience of bidders and consequently the contracts were awarded to inexperienced bidders, resulting in a total breakdown,” says the letter.
Another point is the contract’s duration. The state wants a bidder for five years, whereas the letter states that the contract should be between 10 and 15 years like in the other states, given that Maharashtra has the biggest vehicular population in the country. “If the contract period is lowered, the cost of plate might go up as the huge investment will have to be recovered in a shorter period,” reads the letter.
There is a compromise on security too. The joint venture conditions state that there is a possibility that a foreign entity may become a major stakeholder, which will pose a great security risk. A Supreme Court ruling had mentioned that there should be a single and not multiple manufacturers for the project’s success.
Another letter by ARPMI dated July 25 reported another problem. “As per the website of the Automotive Research Association of India, out of the 16 approved companies engaged in manufacturing of HSRP, only two have got valid certificates of Conformity of Production. By following this condition, the department would restrict the participation to only two companies.”
The third correspondence dated October 21 has clearly stated how the production clause has an anomaly. The bid mentions a minimum monthly production of 10 lakh blank plates as against the requirement of 21 lakh.
Another complaint is that the last day to submit the bids’ hard copies was October 30 by 5pm. At 5.30pm, the state extended the last date for submission to November 5.