CM picks Tatas to execute Bidadi power project

Decision taken minutes before poll code came into force

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who is also the Chairman of Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL), has selected Tata Projects to execute the Rs 2,184-crore power project at Bidadi.

The decision was taken minutes before the Election Commission of India on Wednesday announced that the model code of conduct would come into force in the State with immediate effect, ahead of the May 5 Assembly elections.

 Sources said that the decision to allot the project to Tata Projects was taken at the KPCL Board meeting at about 3 pm on Wednesday despite there not being consensus over the matter. However, senior bureaucrats said that Cabinet nod was necessary before finalising the contract, given the magnitude of the project.

The  700-MW gas-based electricity project at Bidadi has been in the eye of a controversy ever since the selection of the first lowest bidder in December last year.
Sources said that the matter was not even on the agenda of the KPCL Board meeting and, one of the top officials had even boycotted the meeting after learning about the move to award the project.

KJP leader Shobha Karandlaje, who was till recently the Energy Minister in the Shettar Cabinet, told Deccan Herald: “I have confirmed it with officials, Finance Secretary L V Nagarajan opposed the decision and contested that the contract should not be awarded to any company at this stage.”

M R Kamble, Managing Director, KPCL was quoted by Deccan Herald in its Wednesday’s report on the Bidadi project that the Board had not taken any decision on the matter and that negotiations were on with three of the four shortlisted bidders––Larsen and Toubro, Tata Projects and BHEL.

Karandlaje said the decision was taken without following proper procedures and “knowing very well that the model code of conduct was to be announced soon,” and alleged that there are conflicting interests in awarding the  contract. She said the decision was not only made minutes before the model code of conduct was invoked, but also was against the interest of people.

“You can check with any of the global companies, the prices of machinery and other things have decreased now, and, given the kind of controversy the project has been in since the tendering process began last year, it is only right that the government re-tenders the project,” Karandlaje said.

One of the senior bureaucrats in the State Government, seeking anonymity said: “No government order will be issued in this regard without the permission of the Election Commission of India.”

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