Procurement of 124 buses by Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Services Ltd (BPTSL) for strengthening the City Bus service as well as introduction of an air-conditioned fleet has come under scanner following allegation of violation of tender norms.
The BPTSL had invited bids for the buses in three categories of AC standard, non-AC standard and mini/midi for the city bus service in Bhubaneswar, Puri and Cuttack.
The bids were also meant for Berhampur and Sambalpur where city bus service would be launched soon.
While Eicher Motors and Ashok Leyland quoted ` 11,27,682 and ` 11,75,000 per unit respectively in the non-AC mini/midi bus category, Tata Motors quoted three different prices of ` 15,411,86; ` 17,70,388 and ` 17,70,388 under the same category. In the categories of AC and Non-AC too, Tata Motors quoted higher price than Ashok Leyland.
As the lowest bidders, Eicher Motors and Ashok Leyland should have been selected as per norms but the Government approved the bid in favour of Tata Motors. More intriguingly, it decided to procure the mini/midi buses at enhanced price of ` 18,86,156 per unit, non-AC standard at `32,34,018 and AC standard at ` 65,54,838.
The issue has raised serious questions on the process of procurement as the tender award criteria was clearly set to the “lowest acceptable offer for each type of bus”. The conditions also stated that the price of a bid was not inclusive of the annual maintenance contract (AMC) quotes. But the final decision was taken by factoring in the AMC quotes in the blatant violation of the tender norms.
The BPTSL, however, justified the decision stating that it was taken after careful consideration of all aspects and in the larger interest of the people. “While the vehicle prices quoted in the rejected bids were abnormally low, the aforesaid companies did not have the basic infrastructure in the State to provide apt and timely after-sales service as against the extensive network of Tata Motors,” BPTSL CEO Sanjib Mishra said. The approval was accorded by a high-level committee of the Government involving Finance, Law and other departments.
“Previous experience of dealing with companies not having after-sales service network was also taken into account”, Mishra added.