Telangana HC junks ASI  work order on project worth Rs 5.6 crore

ASI accused of sidestepping lowest bidder, awarding tender to firm lacking tech ability

Published: 13th October 2022 05:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th October 2022 05:21 AM   |  A+A-

Telangana HC

Telangana High Court (File Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court on Wednesday set aside the work order issued by the museum section of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in New Delhi to Netherland-based Giopel Export-Import Pvt Ltd (PIQL) for digitalisation of one lakh estampages of inscriptions at the ASI’s Epigraphy branch in Mysuru. The court also said that the work order needed to be awarded to the next eligible candidate. 

Soon after, heads started rolling, with the Assistant Director General of the ASI being transferred to another department, according to sources.It all started with the ASI inviting bids for digitalisation of the 74,000 manual copies of inscriptions taken on paper, called estampages, preserved in the ASI’s epigraphy branch at Mysuru. 

Tenders, giving all the specifications, were called for the project worth Rs 1.5 crore. Eligible  firms, with experience in such work, were advised to bid on the Government eMarketplace (GeM). D Ravinder Reddy, a photojournalist with over 30 years of experience, quoted the lowest amount through his firm, and was invited to Mysuru to give a demonstration of the work done by him and he planned to execute the digitalisation. 

Inexplicably, the tender was cancelled and another work order was issued by the ASI to PIQL), inflating the project cost to Rs 5.61 crore.Stating that all norms for issuing the work order were flouted to benefit PIQL, Ravinder Reddy approached the High Court. His counsel told the court that PIQL was a non-entity with neither technical ability, nor financial credibility to do the job.

Ravinder Reddy told Express that there are allegations that some higher officials in the ASI’s Delhi headquarters unfairly favoured PIQL. He also alleged that Director of Epigraphy K Muniratnam Reddy, who was doing exceptional work at ASI Epigraphy branch in Mysuru, was transferred to the Institute of Archaeology at Noida, days before the awarding of the work order. 

Though the court’s order copy was not made public, Prem Kumar Pothina, counsel for Ravinder Reddy, urged the court to order an inquiry by the Central Vigilance Commission.“These estampages which carry the undistorted facts of our history need to be preserved and I’m only hoping to get an opportunity to work on this project which will be remembered for generations. I can assert that with all my experience, I’m the only person who can deliver as per the expectations of ASI,” claimed Ravinder Reddy.Archaeologists are hoping Muniratnam Reddy will be brought back to ASI Mysuru, as a lot of work was happening under his supervision, which came to a grinding halt with his transfer. 



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