Himachal's hydro project again taken to court

Shimla, June 22 (IANS) State-run Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) has again come under the purview of the state high court, with international hydropower equipment company Andritz Hydro Private Ltd alleging flawed evaluation of bids.

A division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice R.B. Misra directed HPPCL to reconstitute the evaluation committee and to once again look into the allegations made by the bidders in order to ensure that the tender evaluation is done strictly in accordance with law.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded project, the 450 MW Shongtong-Karchham hydropower project in Kinnaur district, has started running into trouble this time during the evaluation of the bids for the electro mechanical works, an HPPCL's official told IANS.

Two out of the four bidders, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Andritz Hydro, filed representations before HPPCL objecting to the evaluation process last month, he said.

The HPPCL in its letter dated May 16 dismissed the representations of both BHEL and Andritz Hydro. They later moved the high court seeking a declaration to the effect that the bid of Alstom India Ltd, to which this project was likely to be awarded, be proclaimed non-responsive.

During the hearing, the high court asked HPPCL how they could write such a letter and dismiss the representations made by the bidders before award of the bid.

After listening to the arguments made by Andritz, HPPCL and Alstom, the bench directed HPPCL to reconstitute the evaluation committee and once again look into the allegations made by the bidders.

Sources in HPPCL said BHEL, in a communication to HPPCL, had also raised serious objections through a letter regarding the tender process for the project.

In March this year, the state high court stayed the execution of this project.

At that time, the order of a division bench of Acting Chief Justice R.B. Misra and Justice V.K. Sharma came while hearing a petition of the central government and the Indian Army's Western Command, who contended that the HPPCL went ahead with the project despite objections raised by the army from 2007 to 2013.

It said the hydro project is located in vicinity of an ammunition depot where project authorities are using explosives to construct a road.

The petition of the army is still pending in the high court, sources said.

The other hydropower projects the HPPCL has taken up include the 100 MW Sainj in Kullu district, Sawra-Kuddu hydroelectric project (111 MW) in Shimla district and Stage I, II and III of Kashang project (195 MW) in Kinnaur.

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