Cartelisation highway leads to Delhi

March 11, 2008

NEW DELHI: The National Highways Builders Federation, a body representing infrastructure companies, has filed a case in the high court against the ministries of finance and surface transport, and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), stating the recently-announced selection process for infrastructure project bidders is promoting cartelisation within the industry. According to the federation, only bigger players such as GMR, GVK and Reliance Industrial Infrastructure will benefit from the new policies. Fearing cartelisation, smaller players, including Gammon India and Navyug, had lodged an official complaint with the federation. In December 2007, the government had announced a new selection process for infrastructure project bidders. According to the policy, only six bidders with the maximum experience would be eligible to participate in the financial bid stage. However, the policy does not specify the names of the six bidders. Earlier, NHAI had been developing infrastructure projects under another scheme in public-private partnership projects. So far, NHAI had issued a notice inviting tenders that was divided into two parts: technical bid and financial bid. In the technical bid stage, the credibility of the bidder was examined. Those eligible for this round could bid in the financial round. For this, the bidder would either give a grant to the government or give the minimum concession period — the shortest period under which it would return project to the government. “The policies are tilted towards the big players in the industry, whereby the top six companies will always be successful bidders with their kind of experience,” Hammurabi & Solomon senior partner Manoj Kumar told ET. Under the present policy, bidders that do not make it to the top six would automatically be pushed out of the race. “This is unfair and will lead to cartelisation,” sources said. Source: 

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