The Mamata Banerjee-government has decided to make a “second call” to give more time to interested parties to put in bids for the proposed Tajpur port.
The implementing agency for this strategic infrastructure project, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (WBIDC), has already received two bids, the minimum number to go ahead with the tender process.
After much deliberation over the last two days, the government has decided to extend the deadline to submit bids by another 15 days.
Adani Ports & Special Economic Zones Ltd and JSW Infrastructure Ltd, two companies from India’s corporate powerhouses Gautam Adani and Sajjan Jindal, had submitted bids by February 15, which was previously the last date for the submission of bids.
The final date has already been extended twice at the requests of the prospective bidders, giving them sufficient time to carry out necessary due diligence amidst the raging third wave of Covid-19.
The decision to make the second call appears to have been made to combat any insinuation that the state government acted in haste without exhausting all options to find more bidders for arguably Bengal’s most ambitious infrastructure project in decades.
Apart from building a port, the successful bidder will get land to develop an industrial zone. “The bids made by Adani and Jindal will be intact. The second call is to see if there are more parties who may be interested,” said a source aware of the development.
Ten entities showed up in the first pre-bid meeting organised by WBIDC on November 12, 2021. They included, apart from the Adani and Jindal entities, DP World, Essar Ports, two overseas companies from Singapore and the Netherlands and two central public sector companies, including Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Calcutta.
It was evident that not all would make the cut for several reasons, including the requirement of having a high net worth to participate in the tender process. A project of this magnitude and complexity, which is also politically sensitive, is unlikely to draw a crowd, business insiders had predicted. It is not unusual for infrastructure projects, especially ports, to get a small number of bids. Recently, the Modi government at the Centre privatised Air India based on two offers only.
However, the Mamata Banerjee government decided to err on the side of caution.
Source : Telegraph India