Hiremath alleges Rs 500-cr scam in tender for coal transport

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Bengaluru: The tender process carried out by the Karnataka Power Corporation (KPC) for transportation of coal from Odisha to the Raichur Thermal Plant suffered from irregularities, social activist S R Hiremath alleged on Friday.

In August this year, a bench of the High Court of Karnataka observed “serious flaws and lapses” in the entire tender process and directed that the tender process be redone from the stage at which irregularities were noticed, he said.

Hiremath told reporters that the loss caused to the public exchequer by the KPC, by accepting the highest bidder—Karamchand Thapar and Bros (Rs 2538.25 crore)—against the lowest bidder South India Corporation (Rs 1386.27) was Rs 172.8 crore per year and Rs 518.40 crore for three years.

The tender was floated by the KPC through the e-procurement portal and seven companies had taken part in the tender process. The technical bids were opened on June 4 and 30 in 2014, without making a list of all the qualified tenders. The financial bid of  Karamchand Thapar and Bros was allegedly opened.

South India Corporation challenged this in the High Court, stating that it was in violation of the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurements Act. The High Court, in its order, clarified that though the Tender Accepting Authority was authorised to open the financial bid, it was instead opened by the Tender Scrutiny Committee.

Hiremath said that the order of the High Court on August 2 in 2014 (writ petition 30912/2014) had clearly indicted KPC.  “In other words, what the High Court has said is that the loss caused to the public exchequer by the KPC by accepting the highest bid against the lowest bidder is Rs 172.8 crore per year and 518.40 crore for three years.

The developments that have happened, as learnt from most reliable sources, is that these powerful forces headed by the Energy Minister are now very busy in managing the damage while not taking any steps as per the High Court order,” Hiremath said. He demanded an inquiry into the tender process, which he claimed has seriously damaged the reputation of the government.

“We suspect a major scandal involving Rs 500 crore in the coal transportation tender process. We urge Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to order an independent enquiry into this scandal involving powerful persons, both political and administrative executives, with most probable central involvement of Energy Minister D K Shivakumar. With this, our campaign for a special court for Shivakumar has just intensified,” he said.

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