Council awards Brahmapuram biomining contract to Bhumi; refuses to extend work period

Of the eight firms that submitted bids, only two were qualified for the work: Bhumi and Zigma Global Environ Solutions Pvt Ltd.
Brahmapuram waste dumping yard.
Brahmapuram waste dumping yard.

KOCHI: Following hour-long discussions, the corporation council voted in favour of handing biomining work at Brahmapuram to Pune-based Bhumi Green Energy, which had quoted the lowest bid in the tender. Of the 70 councillors who attended the meeting on Friday, 45 LDF and BJP members backed the mayor’s decision. The 25 Congress members voted against the proposal. 

Congress councillors demanded the extension of the contract period from 16 to 28 months. “Completing biomining work at Brahmapuram is the most important task for the corporation. We have had fire outbreaks at the dumpyard every summer. On behalf of the citizens, completing biomining within the said period is important, and we cannot extend the tenure,” said mayor Anilkumar. 

Unlike the tender conditions with Zonta Infratech Pvt Ltd, it has been decided that payment will now be made based on the completion of work, he said.

Of the eight firms that submitted bids, only two were qualified for the work: Bhumi and Zigma Global Environ Solutions Pvt Ltd. Bhumi quoted Rs 1,708 per metric tonne (MT) while Zigma Global quoted Rs 4,640/MT. Following negotiations, Bhumi agreed on Rs 1,690/MT. Zigma said it is willing to participate on the condition that it would only carry out biomining work, and that the corporation and cement company would have to arrange transportation and disposal of refuse-derived fuel (RDF),” said Anilkumar. 

The corporation secretary informed the council that the tender was floated with strict clauses and conditions. “The request for proposal was framed after studying all the shortcomings of the previous tender. A fair and transparent process was adopted to make the tender competitive and beneficial for the corporation by incorporating stricter conditions,” said the secretary.

As per conditions, the company has to complete the work within 16 months of being awarded the tender. This period accounts three months for pre-work facilitation, four months for monsoon, and the remaining nine months for actual biomining work. Opposition councillors submitted their dissent note on awarding the work to Bhumi. “As per the secretary’s explanation at the previous council meeting, the rates could be further reduced with the period for completing the work extended to 28 months. The work cannot be completed within the said period,” they said. 

Considering the financial crunch faced by the corporation, we demand an extension of the contract period,” said Antony Kureethara, opposition leader. Echoing his views, KPCC general secretary and councillor Deepthi Mary Varghese alleged corruption in awarding the work to Bhumi and called for an investigation to clear the air. “We have already lost `54 crore to Zonta, and we know the controversy linked to it. We strongly feel there has been ministerial-level intervention in awarding the work to Bhumi,” said Deepthi.

In response to the allegations, the mayor said the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, an independent agency under the central government, would be tasked with monitoring the work. Deepthi said the project is worth over Rs 100 crore. “We are not willing to allow another experiment at Brahmapuram... Another major concern is that we will be paying Bhumi double of what it charges Pune corporation, which is `850/MT. This will burden the corporation” she added.

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