No undue favour to Adani Group in Dharavi slum project: Maharashtra govt tells Bombay HC
In the first tender issued in 2018, the petitioner company had emerged as the highest bidder with its Rs 7,200 crore bid. This had been cancelled by the state government in February this year.
MUMBAI: The new tender issued in 2022 for the Dharavi slum redevelopment project in Mumbai was transparent and no undue favour was shown to the highest bidder Adani Group, the Maharashtra government has submitted to the Bombay High Court.
The government earlier this month submitted its affidavit in response to a petition filed by the UAE-based company Seclink Technologies Corporation, challenging the government's decision to award the project to Adani Properties Private Ltd.
"The petitioner has made unfounded and reckless allegations such as actions of respondents being politically motivated without any basis or material as indeed none exists. For making such reckless allegations alone, the writ petition deserves to be dismissed with costs," the affidavit said.
A division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor will hear the plea on Thursday.
The affidavit filed by the deputy secretary of the state housing department said the petitioner company has made "false and baseless accusations that the cancellation of the old tender was politically motivated and these allegations are denied."
"I say that the cancellation of the tender process has been conducted after following proper process. I further deny that the new tender was floated to favour Respondent No.3 (Adani). I say that the new tender process was conducted in an absolutely transparent manner and in fact, the new tender attracted more bidders than those who had participated in the old tender," the affidavit said.
The allegations made by the petitioner are far-fetched and implausible, it added.
The government said the Dharavi redevelopment process was an extremely vital public purpose project which will change the lives of thousands of persons presently living in squalor and disrespectful conditions.
"Any attempt made by persons to derail this redevelopment project should be thwarted as any stay on such projects would seriously impede the execution of the redevelopment project (which are of vital public importance)," it said.
The Adani Group had emerged as the highest bidder for the 259-hectare Dharavi Redevelopment Project and bagged it with its Rs 5,069 crore bid in the 2022 tender process.
In the first tender issued in 2018, the petitioner company had emerged as the highest bidder with its Rs 7,200 crore bid. The government's decision to cancel the 2018 tender and issue a fresh tender in 2022 with additional conditions was challenged in the HC by Seclink Technologies Corporation.
The government in an earlier affidavit filed in February this year said the 2018 tender was cancelled and a fresh tender was issued in 2022 because of several factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war which affected the financial and economic state of affairs.
In July, the petitioner company amended its plea to challenge the government resolution which awarded the slum redevelopment project to the Adani Group.
The government in its affidavit further claimed the new tender has factored in the rehabilitation and rehousing even of the non-eligible people (around 7 lakh) thereby making the whole redevelopment process more inclusive and more complex.
As per the government, in the old tender, non-eligible slum tenements were not entitled to rehabilitation and they could have approached the nodal agency under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna. The new tender postulates accommodating the non-eligible slum tenements for which appropriate provision is made, it said.
"Under the new tender, the selected bidder will also be required to accommodate the non-eligible slum tenements in affordable housing or under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna and pertinently such requirement was not there in the old 2018 tender," the affidavit said.
It was not open for the petitioner "to question the wisdom of tender conditions as it is the sole domain of the authority," the affidavit further said.
The government said the new tender was issued with revised terms and conditions in a bona fide manner and on a rational basis after obtaining approval of the Committee of Secretaries and the Cabinet.
"There is no question of excluding anyone's participation as the bids were required to be submitted afresh and the petitioner also could have submitted a bid by complying with the terms and conditions of the new tender," it said.