THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Giving a rude shock to the state government, no company bid for the multi-crore Vizhinjam international seaport project on Friday, triggering suspicions of foul play and the fear that the government may have to float global tenders all over again.
Though Friday 11 am was the deadline for prospective private partners to place their price bids, none of the three firms/consortiums that had purchased the bid documents put in an appearance at the office of the Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd (VISL) here. The UDF Government has now extended the deadline to March 25 for placing the bids. The government will also call a meeting of the bidders shortly.
‘’We have extended the date by a month. A pre-bid meeting will be called soon and we will also be talking to the bidders in the meantime,’’ VISL CEO A S Suresh Babu said. Although five firms/consortiums were shortlisted by the government, only three - Essar Ports, a consortium of Srei Infrastructure and OHL and Adani Ports - had purchased the RFP documents. The other two - Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd and a consortium of Hyundai and Concast Infratech Ltd - had not purchased the documents.
Friday’s no-show is disheartening since the project had received green clearance and, more recently, the centre had agreed to provide Viability Gap Funding (VGF) to the extent of `800 crore, the first in the country for a port project.
When the government floated tenders on December 4, 2013, for selecting a private partner, it was the fourth instance for this particular project since 2007.
If you counted the failed attempt made in 1995 by roping in the Kumar Group for constructing the port, successive state governments have made five attempts altogether. Earlier attempts had failed owing to many reasons ranging from denial of defence clearance to some of the participants to court cases and land controversies to lack of investors.