BHUBANESWAR: A smell of scam is brewing in rural electrification projects in Sundargarh district with the authorities allegedly awarding jobs to certain agencies in contravention of rules of bidding and Odisha Public Works Department (OPWD) code.
Sources said the district rural development agency of Sundargarh had floated tenders for electrification of villages under Biju Gram Jyoti Yojana (BGJY) in 17 blocks and urban areas under Biju Saharanchala Vidyutkaran Yojana (BSVY) in four urban local bodies in October 2015. While the estimated cost of works was `50 lakh for each block and municipality, it was `one crore for Rourkela Municipal Corporation.
The blocks which were taken up for electrification were Sundargarh Sadar, Tangarpali, Lephripara, Hemgir, Subdega, Balisankar, Kutra, Rajgangpur, Kuarmunda, Nuagaon, Bisra, Lathikata, Bonai, Lahunipara, Gurundia and Koira besides Sundargarh, Rajgangpur and Birmitrapur municipalities.
While one agency has been issued work orders for Kutra and Subdega blocks for which it did not participate in tender, another agency which was second lowest (L2) bidder has been awarded jobs for Nuagaon and Lathikata blocks in violation of the rules.
The OPWD code states if the first lowest (L1) bidder does not turn up for agreement, L2 bidder, if fulfills other required criteria would be called for drawing agreement for execution of works subject to the condition that it negotiates at par with the rate quoted by L1 bidder. However, in case of Nuagaon and Lathikata blocks, the quoted price of the L2 bidder has been accepted and work orders issued as the L1 bidder did not execute the work.
Though as per the code, tenders should be invited after a detailed estimate showing quantities, rates and amounts of various items, the authorities concerned had floated tender without mentioning the quantities.
Information obtained through RTI suggested that the authorities have been indifferent while selecting bidders. One bidder, which had quoted high price for some electrical equipment has been awarded the tender, but surprisingly the same agency has been disqualified for some other items for which it had quoted the lowest price.
Although the code says the authorities can reduce the quoted price after negotiation with the bidder only if the latter’s value exceeds the estimated cost by more than five per cent.
If the quoted rate of the lowest bidder is within five per cent of the estimated cost, there is no need for negotiation. But for Gurundia block, the authorities allegedly reduced `1000 per consumer for providing wiring to BPL houses putting the bidder, who had quoted the estimated cost of `3,000, in a fix. They have also issued work orders for some items which were not mentioned in the tender.
Contacted, Project Director of Sundargarh DRDA, SK Meena said the works were awarded to L2 bidder as the L1 did not turn up despite reminders.
“In certain cases, the authority can consider other bidders for execution of work if there is any urgency. They were awarded tenders as the villages were to be electrified before monsoon,” he added, denying any irregularity in the process.