Bengaluru Safe City plan hits tender bump

Bengaluru Safe City plan hits tender bump

CCTV camera

Implementation of the ‘Bengaluru Safe City Project’ under the Nirbhaya Scheme has hit a hurdle, with several industry representatives contending that a tender floated by the Bengaluru City Police for this was “biased” and the specification given for surveillance software sub-standard.

In October last year, the Cabinet had approved a Rs 667-crore plan under this scheme to make the city safe for women. A month later, the BCP called for tenders to procure the necessary surveillance equipment. More than 100 companies attended a pre-bid meeting with government officials on November 19, following which companies had cumulatively raised at least 2,000 queries without receiving a proper response from officials, industry representatives contended.

Among the companies pointing out the shortcomings of the tender was PSU Bharat Electronics (BEL). In a letter to Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar, BEL stated: “The qualification criteria for Bangalore Safe City Project are unreasonably in favour of one or two vendors. This puts BEL in disadvantageous condition, even after having vast experience in similar projects. Some of the criteria also violate the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) guidelines.”

A complaint by one of the firms reads: “Most of the specifications of the surveillance system are a complete copy-paste from the product brochure of a single company. There is a serious attempt to dilute the software components (brain of the overall project) to a substandard system in favour of an existing hardware vendor.”

The letter goes on to seek changes to the qualification criteria for wider participation. Sources in the Home Department confirmed receipt of a letter from BEL.

While urging the government to revoke the tender or at least revise the parameters, firms have also raised concerns about standards specified for video analytics software.

A representative of a private firm that participated in the pre-bid meeting explained: “Tender specifications seek video analytics software with accuracy as low as 50% for non-standard Roman number plates in case of three-wheelers and above, which will not help improve women’s safety in anyway. In other states, governments ask for a minimum of 90% accuracy. Moreover, the BCP itself in a previous tender in 2016, had asked for software with 80% accuracy in reading number plates.”

Also, the tender states that the bidder should have a cumulative turnover of minimum Rs 300 crore in the last three audited financial years to take part in the bid. “A company that has only half the turnover of a project costing over Rs 600 crore will not have enough liquidity to deliver the IT solutions,” the representative added. 

Further, another industry representative contended that the pre-bid meeting had no space for discussion. “The pre-bid meeting lasted all of 20 minutes, with no chance for proper interaction. This was the shortest pre-bid meeting I have attended.”

According to the tender document, “The project includes installing high-resolution surveillance cameras at strategic locations of Bengaluru City for general surveillance of the
Bengaluru citizens, especially women.”

When contacted, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajneesh Goel said industry representatives could approach him with any grievances as he was the appellate authority in this regard.

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