SRINAGAR: Lack of interest in government projects is stalling them as much as lack of action on them. A number of multi-crore, multi-utility projects have failed to take off for lack of any bidders, which also indicates a lack of effective bidding on the government’s part.
The first government department that became fully digital – Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs – had to float tenders four times before it finally found a company to install Point-of-Sale (PoS) devices in the government’s ration shops. An official in the department said that the electronic system, to replace the manual system of recording sales, should have been functional immediately after the Food Security Act was passed by the state. But the lack of interest from companies specialising in this work delayed the project for more than 18 months.
“In two biddings there was no bidder. In the third attempt only one (company) showed interest, but it was not enough to award the project. Then, on the fourth attempt, we found some more companies taking part, and finally we awarded the project,” the official said.
The project has now been started on pilot basis, but the department is facing another issue: about 95 percent of the ration consumers have failed biometric match. The project is once again stuck.
The Power Development Department (PDD) also had to issue tenders three times before any company showed interest in two projects to upgrade power transmission and distribution infrastructure – the Prime Minister’s Development Plan (PMDP-Rural) and the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY).
An official in the department told Kashmir Reader that in the last quarter of 2016, tenders were first floated for the projects. There were no bidders. The tenders were once again floated and still there were no bidders. It was after the third bidding that two Hyderabad-based companies finally won the contracts, but they were later cancelled – despite being cleared by two government committees that assessed the companies’ technical qualification. The projects were given to public sector units without any bidding, but the Hyderabad companies have moved court and the court has ordered a stay on the work.
Similar is the story of the State Power Development Corporation’s project of constructing a Rs 50-crore multi-purpose building. The company wasted many months in seeking a contractor for the construction. When none was found, in 2014 a cabinet order was issued which said that the project can be given to Jammu and Kashmir Project Construction Corporation (JKPCC) without tenders. Though the project had to be completed in 18 months, it is now almost four years and the JKPCC has carried out only basic work.