Twitterati slammed the Narendra Modi government after The National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) awarded a contract to a Chinese company, Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Company Limited, for the construction of a 5.6-kilometre underground stretch, from New Ashok Nagar to Sahibabad, of the Delhi-Meerut RRTS project.
With the standoff between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh yet to be resolved, many Twitterati termed the awarding of a contract to a Chinese firm 'unacceptable'.
After the news about the RRTS project hit social media, many took to Twitter to slam the Modi government and questioned this move.
One user wrote, "Is the LAC stand-off over? Has China returned to the pre April 2020, positions? Have the Galwan Bravehearts been avenged? If not then how and why are we dealing with China and awarding contracts to them? Something stinks."
"This is extremely bad example to the national sentiments of anti china movement. Government gives rail contract to Chinese company This is not acceptable," wrote another.
Here are some of the reactions on Twitter:
Awarding of Delhi-Meerut RRTS (Rapid Rail) construction contract to Chinese Firm is:— Jaiveer Shergill (@JaiveerShergill) January 4, 2021
1) An insult to sacrifice of 20 brave soldiers who gave up their life defending LAC
2) Encounter of “Local for Vocal” slogan by BJP Govt itself
3) Exposes Cinema & Election Nationalism of BJP
This is extremely bad example to the national sentiments of anti china movement. Govt gives rail contract to Chinese co. This is not acceptable— Ajay Kumar (@AJAY_iN1) January 4, 2021
Delhi merath RRTS project awarded to chinese firm. Is it justified after Galwan valley incidence? #BoycottChina— Himank Jain (@Himankcr7) January 4, 2021
Protests against #rrts project. We need to reset the project and don’t give any project to #chinesecompany #buycottchinesecompany @narendramodi @PMOIndia @nitin_gadkari @RahulGandhi @RajatSharmaLive @Lalandeo4— Saheb Kumar Gupta (@SahebkumarGupta) January 4, 2021
India following ADB's procurement guidelines, cannot discriminate
The 82-km-long Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS corridor is being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and procurement is governed by the guidelines of the bank and the government.
According to the ADB's procurement guidelines, vendors from all member countries of the bank are eligible to participate in the bidding process without any discrimination.
The NCRTC had invited bids for the construction of the tunnel from New Ashok Nagar to Sahibabad of Delhi Ghaziabad Meerut RRTS corridor on November 9, 2019.
Five companies submitted technical bids and all five bidders qualified in the technical bid evaluation.
The financial bids were opened after obtaining the NOC on Technical Bid Evaluation from the ADB.
Of the five firms, Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Company Limited emerged as the L1 bidder for the tender after qualifying on all the parameters and the contract was awarded to it.
Some Twitter users also defended the move and cited ADB's procurement guidelines as the reason behind the Chinese firm ending up with the project.
ADB bank is financing the #RRTS project, and according to their Rules member nations can't be stopped from participating in the bidding. Since China was the lowest bidder you have to play by the rules of money lender. #BoycottChina— Ravish Bharti (@ravishbharti) January 4, 2021
NCRTC's take about the RRTS project
The NCRTC, which is executing the country's first Regional Rapid Rail Transit System (RRTS), said the contract was awarded following the set procedure and guidelines.
"Approvals have to be taken at various levels for bids that are funded by multilateral agencies. This bid was also awarded following the set procedure and guidelines.
"Now, all the civil work tenders of the 82-km-long Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor have been awarded and the construction is going on in full swing to commission the project in time," an NCRTC spokesperson said.
RRTS train first look unveiled in September 2020
In September last year, the Union housing and urban affairs ministry had unveiled the first look of the RRTS train, the design of which is inspired by Delhi's iconic Lotus Temple.
It can attain a top speed of 180 kilometres per hour on the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor.
According to the ministry, with a radiating stainless steel outer body, the aerodynamic RRTS trains will be lightweight and fully air-conditioned.
The Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor is the first RRTS corridor being implemented in the country.
The time to commute from Delhi to Meerut will be reduced to less than an hour from the current three-four hours by road, officials said.
The prototype is scheduled to roll off the production line in 2022 and will be put into public use after extensive trials.
The 17-km priority corridor of the Delhi-Meerut RRTS from Sahibabad to Duhai will be operational in 2023 and the entire corridor will be operational in 2025.
Sangh affiliate wants Indian firm instead of Chinese giant
In June 2000, the RSS affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch stated that the contract for such projects should be given to Indian companies.
Ashwani Mahajan, Co-convenor, Swadeshi Jagran Manch said that the tender for such projects should go to an Indian company.
“The government is promoting ‘Make in India’ and construction of such big projects should be handled by an Indian company. Government authorities in the past as well have cancelled some tenders to promote ‘Make in India’,” he said.
20 Indian Army personnel killed in Ladakh face-off in June 2020
A total of 20 Indian Army personnel were killed during a violent clash with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley in June 2020, escalating the already volatile border standoff between the two sides.
(With Inputs From PTI)