Himachal Cabinet Reverses Stand – Decides Not To Cancel 960MW Brakel Project

Shimla: Denying any unfairness in awarding the 960 MW hydel project to Brakel Corporation, the Himachal Government has reversed it stand before the Supreme Court stating that it would give the prestigious project on Satluj River to the corporation which has an association with Adani Group.

When contacted, Deepak Sanan, power secretary said that the an affidavit had been filed in the Supreme Court that the government did not want to cancel Jangi-Thopan and Thopan-Powari project allocation to Brakel Corporation, a Dutch company. The twin projects have a generation potential of 480 MW each.

He said that it was on the basis of a considered decision by the state cabinet that the affidavit had been filed.

It may be mentioned that following a decision of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, the state government had decided to cancel the project to Brakel Corporation in October 2009 and also had decided to forfeit the Rs 280 crore paid up towards project allocation as penalty for misleading the government and for project delay.

The state has also denied allegations of unfairness leveled by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG).

“All the allegations of unfairness, arbitrariness and illegality made against the state are baseless and deserved to be rejected straightway. All the decisions in the matter have been taken by the council of ministers and after considering the report of the committee of secretaries,” says the state government in a 10-page affidavit filed before the court.

“Even the committee after considering the relevant records has not come across any incriminating documents/information which may prima facie indicate the commission of any criminal act by Brakel,” the state government further said over the allegation of ADAG firm that Brakel was a shoddy firm.

Over the allegations of receiving funds from the Adani group for the project, the state government said that there was nothing wrong in it.

“In so far as the allegation regarding receiving the funds from Adani group by way of loan is concerned, Brakel has disclosed the details to the state government immediately on enquiry. Borrowing of money by an allottee is not prohibited under the bid document.

“Brakel has clarified that they have not allotted or transferred any equity to Adani nor will its do so without the permission of the state government and it was found satisfactory,” the state government said.

On a petition filed by Reliance Infrastructure, the Himachal High Court had cancelled the allotment in favour of Brakel Corporation on 7 October, 2009. Subsequently the Himachal Government had also cancelled allotment and imposed a Rs 280 crore penalty on October 22, 2009.

In its affidavit, the state government further informed the apex court that as a matter of public policy it has decided not to cancel the Rs 8,000 crore (approx) tender. “The decision not to cancel the allotment of the project in favour of Brakel is in public interest and in the interest of the state,” the state government said.

The state government further admitted that there was a delay by Barkel, in payment of premium of Rs 173 crore after successfully bidding for the project, but the firm had later had paid the amount on January 2008 along with the interest.

On its earlier decision of July 7, 2008, to issue show cause notice to Brakel and call for the fresh bidding for the project, the state government said that it was subject to the outcome of the probe done by the committee of secretaries.

“The cabinet had taken a decision on July 7, 2008, to issue show cause notice and call for fresh bidding for the projects but that was dependent on the result and status of the already allotted project and matter of cancellation of each of the project for such consideration of fresh allotment, and entirely to the result of the show cause notice decided to be issued to the present petitioners (Brakel),” said the state government.

Over ADAG firm’s allegation, the state government further said that all the bidders were given a chance to clarify their position and place their documents in position by the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board, the executing agency.

It further said, “In fact Reliance had bid as consortium. However, details of the consortium were not mentioned but when the clarifications were sought, Reliance desired to bid as individual entity and not as consortium, thus changing the entire basis of the bid”.

The state government further said that the decision by the council of ministers was taken as per the evaluations done the Himachal Pradesh Infrastructure Development Board (HPIDB), where all qualified bidders including ADAG firm had presented their case.

“Neither Reliance nor any other pre-qualified bidder raised any objection to the evaluation process of any other pre-qualified bidders. No essential fundamental condition was changed,” the state government said.

The bidding that was held on the basis of highest upfront premium per MW offered by the bidding companies and ADAG firm was lower than that of Brakel’s, which had come out top for both the projects..

The affidavit was filed by the state government after the Supreme Court issued notice to it in May 2010 clarifying its position.
The apex court’s direction has come after High Court’s order was challenged by Brakel and ADAG firm before the Supreme Court.

In their petitions, Brakel had challenged the entire order of the High Court, where the ADAG firm challenged the options granted to the state government between inviting fresh bids or go with older bid.

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