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Mud sticks on number plates

- You hired a fraud, fired agency tells transport department

Ranchi, Dec. 18: The fox in the fable said “grapes are sour” when he didn’t get them, but an agency sacked by the state transport department has gone one step ahead — sent high-octane allegations against the newly hired one.

The transport department’s project to implement the Supreme Court-mandated high-security registration plates (HSRP) or tamper-proof vehicle identifier has to battle another delay now, but has high drama as free entertainment.

Earlier this year, the state hired and sacked Ghaziabad-based Agros Impex Pvt. Ltd for reportedly being incompetent to implement the mammoth project. After a couple of rounds of unsuccessful tenders, the department handpicked in December Rosemarta Technologies Pvt. Ltd for the job.

Now, even before the new agency Rosemarta could make its official debut, Agros Impex, presumably smarting from the insult of having been unceremoniously dropped, has sent letters against Rosemarta to the offices of chief minister Arjun Munda and the transport department, including minister Champai Soren, accusing the selected firm of fraud.

According to the letters, the soft copies of which are with The Telegraph, Rosemarta Technologies allegedly set up a cartel with another agency, Utsav Safety Systems Pvt. Ltd. Both bid separately but manipulated quotes due to their underhand understanding, helping Rosemarta Technologies win the Jharkhand tender.

Both firms are working together in Andhra Pradesh and Delhi on the HSRP project, Agros Impex has alleged.

The only solid evidence that Agros Impex has produced is against Utsav Safety Systems.

It has enclosed an attested copy of a Himachal Pradesh High Court order in which the state cancelled its agreement with Utsav Safety Systems, finding it guilty of adopting fraudulent means to win the tender and of selling duplicate high-security number plates.

Essentially, Agros Impex is saying two things. One, it was sacked for so-called incompetence, but Rosemarta, the firm that was hired, doesn’t have a clean chit. Two, Rosemarta is a rotten apple as it has partnered with a proven rotten apple, Utsav Safety Systems.

“It is a mud-slinging exercise by the earlier agency (Agros Impex) as it lost its job in Jharkhand. But the allegations can’t be dismissed outright for the simple reason that some of the documents are worth giving a thought,” a senior official in the department said, adding that the project might get further delayed.

Transport secretary K.K. Khandelwal confirmed receiving the letters from Agros Impex.

“We have to launch a probe to see if indeed Rosemarta and Utsav Safety Systems were a cartel. We will seek legal opinion before signing the agreement,” he said.

The department, after selecting Rosemarta, sent the relevant file to minister Soren.

“It is with the minister. Once it returns, we will investigate and seek legal opinion concerning the controversy before going ahead with mandatory agreement procedures. We will do what is legally binding to successfully implement the project,” said Khandelwal.


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