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Wheeled out on dumpers

New Delhi, June 5: N.K.Sharma may have to face another probe on a larger case involving purchases of 195 dumpers worth Rs 182 crore. He allegedly favoured Calcutta-based Hindustan Motors by giving them 40 per cent of the tender, even though state-run Bharat Earthmovers won the contract.

Coal ministry officials said CIL top-brass had earlier sent complaints to the ministry about a set of three contracts for purchase of dumpers in 2000-2001 against Sharma, who was then director (technical) on CIL's board and the man responsible for buying the dumpers.

This case is likely to be put under the scanner by investigating agencies, which will be handed over the Sharma case, they said. The case where Ranchiís HEC was not given a contract despite having bid a rate low enough, for which Sharma is now being hauled up, was a far smaller one involving an amount of less than Rs 20 crore.

In the first contract for 136 35-tonne dumpers, Hindustan Motors was the lowest bidder. But a rule established by the Cabinet more than a decade ago, which gives preference to state-run companies in case they bid within 10 per cent of the lowest bidder and are willing to lower their prices, meant the order should have gone to BEML.

However, Sharma explained to the CIL board that this was at variance with a Central Vigilance Commission circular, which said no post-tender negotiations were allowed. Instead, it decided to fix his own compromise solution of awarding 60 per cent of the order to BEML and 40 per cent to Hind Motors. This happened despite the central government stating the PSU purchase preference policy has to be implemented by all departments and PSUs, without exceptions.

In the second contract for 44 50-T dumpers, BEML was the lowest bidder. Despite this, Sharma awarded 40 per cent of the contract to Hind Motors. In the third contract, BEML quoted a marginally higher price compared with Hind Motors and should have won the contract. But here again, the order was split 60:40.

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