The district transport office in Ranchi. (Hardeep Singh)
Close to a month after terminating a contract with the existing agency, the state transport department has now begun a fresh hunt to engage a new vendor to implement the high security registration plate system in Jharkhand.
The state transport authority issued an advertisement in this regard on Sunday, inviting interested parties to bid for the project, even though the terminated agency has challenged its ouster in Jharkhand High Court. The last date for submitting bids is September 27.
“The tenders will be opened on October 1,” the advertisement undersigned by state transport commissioner K.K. Khandelwal said.
Speaking to The Telegraph, joint transport commissioner R.K. Ram said the department was working on finding a new agency on a priority basis as it wanted to restart issuing high security registration plates as soon as possible.
Charging it with incompetence, the department had slapped a termination order on earlier agency Agros Impex Pvt Limited on August 13, around two months after work on the project started in Ranchi on May 30.
Roughly 8,000 plates were churned out by the agency throughout the state, which transport department authorities maintained was way too few and below average compared to the target assigned.
The officials claimed that the agency did not possess proper technology and equipment to carry out the task of embossing and affixing the high security number plates.
“The decision to terminate the agency was taken after a special committee constituted by the department submitted its report about its functioning. The report noted that the agency was ill-staffed, didn’t have proper equipment and the plates affixed on vehicles were easily detachable. There were many more grey areas as well,” a senior departmental official not willing to be named said.
Agros, however, challenged the transport department’s order, rubbishing all accusations levelled against it.
A senior official of Agros Impex Pvt Limited alleged that they were terminated because a few officials in the transport department were in favour of appointing another Delhi-based agency — Utsav Safety Systems — to carry out the task.
“They were being favoured right from the beginning as some officials here were trying to get that agency on nomination basis. But it wasn’t so easy. And when tenders were floated, we won it. Terminating us was part of a strategy as right from day one we weren’t getting due cooperation from the department,” he alleged.
Installation of high-security number plates has been made mandatory nationwide to prevent theft and misuse of vehicles.