SC reserves verdict on Tangarpada chromite mines tender issue

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 29 2010, 04:10am hrs
The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on whether the Orissa governments decision to cancel allotment of a tender for development of Tangarpada chromite mines to three shortlisted biddersTata Iron and Steel Company, Jindal Strips Ltd and Visa Steelis in the best interests of state.

The government has proposed to develop the mines on its own through a special-purpose vehicle set up by two state-owned concerns, Industrial Development Corporation of Orissa Ltd (IDCOL) and Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) rather than private parties.

The decision to develop the mines in Dhenkanal district of Orissa on its own was taken after IDCOL had evaluated fresh financial bids from the shortlisted companies following the directives from the Supreme Court in February 2008.

Senior counsel P P Rao and Raj Kumar Mehta, appearing for IDCOL, told a Bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam, that the state government had rejected bids of all the three bidders in November 2008 and has refunded the earnest money after their bids were not found financially rewarding.

They further contended that it is a policy decision and we didnt find any one suitable for the project.

OMC is capable of doing it as it has experience of other mining activities, IDCOL said, adding, It is not inclined to give it (development of the mines) to anybody Even the advertisement had clearly mentioned it.

Stating that the bidders had not questioned its rejection order, IDCOL counsel said the bidders cant claim it as the matter of right that the state government was bound to accept any of the bids.

Opposing IDCOLs decision, JSL said the Orissa governments decision to develop the mines on its own was illegal and violative of the apex court order.

JSL senior counsel T Andhyarujana argued that the apex courts order had asked IDCOL to consider the financial bids and if the corporation was not inclined to accept its bids, then why did it seek extension of time for considering the bids.

Stating that the corporation cant unilaterally reject all the three bids and enter into a joint venture with OMC is a colourable exercise of power, JSL counsel said.

He further said that JSL had given the best quotation and it is also ready for further negotiations.

Visa Steel also supported JSLs arguments.