The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Reliance knocks on court door
Ambani: Cry for justice

Feb. 2: The Anil Ambani-run Reliance Airport Developers today moved court against what it called the “arbitrary” evaluation of bids for the modernisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports.

In a petition filed in Delhi High Court two days after it failed to win the contract for either airport, Reliance alleged that the terms and parameters of evaluation and award of tenders were changed at the last moment without any reason or notice.

Reliance had offered the highest revenue sharing percentage to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for Delhi. But GMR-Fraport, the second highest bidder, won the contract after it was allowed to match the highest bid on the ground that it was the lone technically qualified bidder. GMR matched Reliance’s offer of 45.99 per cent share.

The petition said GMR was given the contract for Delhi though it was not the highest financial bidder while GVK-South Africa Airport, the highest bidder for Mumbai, was given the contract although it was among the lowest ranked technically.

The contract was awarded not on the basis of any pre-declared norms or procedures but on an ad hoc decision taken a few hours before the opening of bids, the petition added.

According to the original terms, no additional weightage was to be given for the scores on technical bids. After scrutiny of the technical bids, all qualified bidders were to be treated equally and the one offering the highest revenue sharing percentage awarded the job, it added.

In Mumbai, a Reliance spokesperson said there was need to ensure “fairness and transparency in the award of the contracts for both airports”.

Sources claimed that the Sreedharan Committee, brought in to review the technical scores, had scanned only one out of two criteria. The scores were given on management capability and development capability, which had equal weightage.

Initially, both GMR and Reliance had scored more than 80 ' the eligibility mark ' on both counts. But after the committee reviewed the management capability scores, the Reliance score fell to 76. On development capability, GMR had scored 80.1 per cent while Reliance had got 81.7, the sources said. But this was not reviewed, they claimed.

When the hearing begins in Delhi High Court tomorrow, the Reliance counsel is expected to focus on this point.

Letter to Pranab

Reliance today wrote a five-page letter to Pranab Mukherjee, defence minister and head of the empowered group of ministers, seeking to draw the group’s attention to what it described as gross anomalies in the award of the contracts.

Official sources said a meeting between Mukherjee and Reliance is likely in the next two days.

In the letter, Reliance named two officials ' K. Ramalingam and Sanjay Narain ' who, it alleged, played a critical role in the decision-making without revealing that they were directors on the board of Hyderabad International Airport Ltd ' a joint venture of GMR and the Airports Authority of India.

Ramalingam is the chairman of the Airports Authority of India and Narain is the joint secretary in the ministry of civil aviation. Both were part of the government review committee on the bids.

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