Madras HC restrains Tangedco from finalising Ennore power plant tender
The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) cannot finalise bids or tenders for the Rs 9,207-crore supercritical thermal power project at Ennore without considering the representations of a Chinese firm-led consortium, the Madras high court said on Thursday. Justice M Sathyanarayanan, granting interim orders in favour of CSEPDI-TRISHE, which has the Central Southern China Electric Power Design Institute (CSEPDI) as lead partner, said: "This court can take judicial notice of the fact that this state is reeling under power shortage and the commissioning of power projects stated in the writ petition, is vital and very important to the welfare of the state. The court, therefore, expects the authorities to act fairly and reasonably by considering the representations of the consortium dated June 16 and 17, July 1 and 8, 2014."
The matter relates to a contract for Rs 9,207-crore 2 x 660MW Ennore SEZ supercritical thermal power project, for which the petitioner-consortium and BHEL were the bidders. The consortium filed the present petition saying BHEL should have been disqualified from the bidding process, as it had delayed power projects worth Rs 27,000 crore involving 7,300MW in Tamil Nadu. "The public sector undertaking should have been disqualified from bidding for the new project in view of its abysmal past performance. As per Clause 29.0 of Commercial and General Conditions of Contract and provisions of the Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tenders Act, 1998, authorities must assess the past performance of a bidder and disqualify it if it was not satisfactory," the consortium had said. Allowing its interim plea, Justice Sathyanarayanan said Tangedco had already written to authorities promising to consider the consortium's representations strictly in accordance with rules and the Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tenders Act, 1998.
He said, "Being a state agency, it is under obligation to do so. Till the Tangedco authorities consider and pass orders on the representations, after affording opportunity of personal hearing to the authorised representative of the consortium, and communicate it to the consortium, finalisation of the bid/tender cannot be done." Rejecting arguments that tender matters are not justifiable and hence the writ petition should not be entertained, Justice Sathyanarayanan said: "It is well settled that in the matter of award of contracts, the government and its agency have to act reasonably and fairly at all points of time. To that extent, the tenderer has an enforceable right in the court, which is competent to examine whether the aggrieved party has been treated unfairly or discriminated against to the detriment of public interest. Therefore, it cannot be said that the petition is not maintainable."