NHAI got a bizarre bid of just Rs 1,500 from a construction company for a project worth Rs 1,858 crore, while a Tata firm withdrew bids for two other projects — prompting earnest money forfeiture in all three cases.
When questioned by NHAI on the Rs 1,500 bid, the construction company termed it a “system error”, but the bid was still rejected by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
The three projects are worth over Rs 4,000 crore and are located in Odisha, Rajasthan and Gujarat, while the earnest money deposit being forfeited by NHAI is about Rs 30 crore.
“The NHAI has taken a decision to forfeit earnest money of the Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited (TRIL) after it withdrew bids for two national highway projects.
“Also, it has decided to forfeit KMC Constructions security money for a project after it bid only Rs 1,500 for a Rs 1,848 crore project,” an official told PTI.
When contacted, NHAI Chairman Raghav Chandra confirmed the decision and said the security deposits of about Rs 30 crore would be forfeited.
“NHAI had to take such a decision as such bids amounted to delays in highway projects, besides causing uncalled for complications,” he said.
Query sent to TRIL did not elicit any response, while no immediate comments could be obtained from KMC Constructions.
TRIL had bid for two projects worth Rs 2,272 crore for widening of different sections of Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad highway.
The official said, “TRIL, after emerging as the lowest bidder for both the projects, had in a communication said that they had miscalculated the bidding costs and therefore would like to withdraw from bidding.”
However, it has accepted the third section worth Rs 1,000 crore of the same project, the official said, adding that these were a few examples of how reputed companies were causing delays in highway projects.
The official said KMC Constructions Ltd, in response to a bid for Rs 1,848 crore Angul-Sambalpur highway project in Odisha, quoted “only Rs 1,500”, which was ludicrous.
The official said when questioned by NHAI for quoting such a low amount, KMC officials “cited system error as the reason and they said they could not add zeros after entering the first four digits. However, investigations of NHAI revealed that the builder was lying and their bid was rejected.”
“We are rejecting the bid, treating it unworkable and arbitrary,” Chandra said.
The projects are under government’s flagship road building programme National Highways Development Project (NHDP).