Procurement bias hits Valley units

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A snapshot of power distribution in Kashmir Photo: Bilal Bahadur

With the PDD procurement wing stationed permanently in Jammu, Valley based electric equipment units have faced hurdles. Now before the wing could be shifted to Srinagar, their business prospects seem to already hurt.  HAROON MIRANI reports.

Kashmir’s electric apparatus manufacturing industry has made commendable progress over the past two decades despite a discouraging government policy. While some rules in power department effectively thwart bagging of contracts by Kashmir-based entrepreneurs, industry’s progress is further curtailed by permanent stationing of power department’s procurement wing at Jammu.

Added to this, the assurances by chief minister are being rendered ineffective by higher ups in power department by floating tenders in Jammu for material to be put in use after five years.

Fifty odd industrial units in Kashmir manufacture almost all kinds of electrical equipment used in Kashmir. But state power department with its purchasing wing stationed at Jammu continues to buy same equipments from outside agencies.

Seventy five per cent of entire electric equipment procured by Chief Engineer Procurement and Material Management is used in Kashmir division, but the commercially important office is permanently stationed at Jammu. Manufacturers say this hinders tendering as they seldom come to know about such notices.

“There are two chief engineers for planning-design and procurement-material management and both of them are permanently stationed in Jammu,” says Wasim Khatib, proprietor of Zain Steels. “When every other office has been segregated or is shifted with Durbar Move, one fails to understand why an exception has been made in power department.”

It was this situation that forced the Federation Chambers of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) to raise the issue with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on April 03, 2009 during an interactive session. “CM had agreed in principle and said the issue will be addressed once the code of conduct is lifted,” says Khatib.

But the contended traders were shocked to learn that even before the department is shifted to Srinagar, the Jammu based officer allegedly in connivance with bureaucracy has floated an ‘emergency’ tender of around 400 crore rupees which closes on May 08, 2009.

“They have enough equipment in their go-downs and this tender is for material to be used after five years,” says Khatib. “They know once department is shifted or segregated, Kashmiris might get a chance to win tenders so they have effectively reduced the shifting uselessness.”

The traders say that the department is not going to issue the tender of this magnitude in years to come.
According to sources, PDD has pending stock to the tune of 800 crore rupees. The central store at Pampore is filled to capacity with electric hardware. More than 30,000 steel tubular poles are also dumped in a warehouse at Sidhra bypass in Jammu.

Kashmir based traders allege that they have lost contracts worth billions due to peculiar functioning of CE Procurement. “First we don’t come to know about the tenders in time. And when we do, the tender document has to be obtained from Jammu and submitted there,” says Khatib. “In between, if some clarification is needed or further correspondence has been made by the department, we have to make expensive trips to Jammu to find that out.”

The traders say that they can’t rely on fax or courier as some ‘biased officers put the documents in cold storage or simply describe them as lost’.

They allege that the department has made rules and regulations in such a way that it excludes Kashmir based traders.
Some of the companies working on multi-billion rupee electrification projects in Kashmir include New Delhi based Jaguar group for Anantnag, Chennai based GET power for Kupwara and A To Z Electrical & Hardware for Ladakh division. None of these companies gets its supplies from Kashmir based units.

Implementation of various centrally-sponsored schemes for infrastructure development in power sector in Jammu and Kashmir has not helped the local sector either. New Delhi had extended the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification scheme to Jammu and Kashmir for electrifying the areas which have remained without power. About 600 crore rupees had to be spent on this scheme.

JKPDC, which was executing the project, took out composite tenders for every district, which took care of the entire process – from procuring of material to testing of final lines. Till date, no Kashmiri entrepreneur has been able to get any order for supplies in this project.

The 1100 crore rupees Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP) too has met the same fate, with Kashmir based traders getting naught.

“They have made rules in such a way that all Kashmir based entrepreneurs were excluded and even outside agencies executing the project are not procuring material

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