Plan panel to review bidding guidelines for infrastructure projects

Written by Neha Pal | Surabhi Rastogi | Surabhi | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 1 2009, 05:28am hrs
Even as the UPA government is trying to ensure credit availability for infrastructure projects, the Planning Commission is trying to fast-track the award of projects, routed via public-private partnership model, by reviewing their bidding norms.

The Planning Commission is now working towards finalising a new, more transparent and cost-effective mechanism for bidding infrastructure projects after many of them were inordinately delayed due to contentious provisions of the request for qualification (RFQ).

There have been many problems in the evaluation of the RFQ, especially the format in which the documents were to be submitted, an official said. The Planning Commission has now set up an inter-ministerial task force, headed by its member BK Chaturvedi, to review the bidding process.

The task force, with members from the ministry of road transport, highways and shipping, ministry of civil aviation, ministry of railways and representatives of industry chambers, including CII, Assocham, and Ficci, are scheduled to meet on March 3.

This would just be a review of the RFQ document, which was introduced a year ago. We would take note of the concerns and suggestions from the various stakeholders and then revise the document accordingly, a Plan panel official said.

The Planning Commission had overhauled the bidding procedure for infrastructure projects over a year ago by introducing a two-stage bidthe technical bid or the request for qualification and the financial bid or the request for proposal.

While the aim was to fast-track award of infrastructure projects routed via PPP model, a number of contentious clauses have led to delay in the process. For instance, disqualification of bidders having a common controlling shareholder and short listing only six bidders before calling for financial bids has led to the stalling of many projects.

A case in point is the highway sector, where till last month just one of the targeted 61 national highway projects for this fiscal was awarded. Similarly, Rs 4,000-crore New Delhi Railway Station modernisation plan, too, has been delayed because of the norms in the RFQ.

In fact, worried by the complicated bidding process and the lack of interest by private players on account of the liquidity crunch, the ministry of road transport and highways has proposed easing of the bidding norms to allow single bid projects to go through.

Meanwhile, in another effort to spur public spending, Cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar on Friday held discussions with state chief secretaries through video conferencing to ensure that the fiscal and other measures contained in the Centres stimulus packages are implemented fully.

Ease out

Plan panel is working towards finalising a new, more transparent and cost-effective mechanism for bidding projects

Many projects were inordinately delayed due to contentious provisions of the request for qualification

Plan panel has set up an inter-ministerial task force, headed by BK Chaturvedi, to review the process

The ministry of road transport and highways has proposed easing of the bidding norms to allow single bid projects to go through