Alleging that the state government has made changes in the conditions after tenders for supply of steel pipelines for Dharoi lift irrigation scheme had been submitted, former Congress president Arjun Modhwadia demanded cancellation of the tenders and a probe by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) into the whole episode.
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Addressing mediapersons, Modhwadia alleged that changes in conditions were made at the insistence of Water Resources Minister Babubhai Bokhiria. He also alleged that the changes were effected against the provisions of the Gujarat State Purchase Policy, 2016, with a view to benefitting Welspun Group, a Delhi-based company, that imports steel slab from China.
Bokhiria, after Modhwadia’s press briefing, told The Indian Express that the state government cancelled the tenders Tuesday evening. “The question of an inquiry into it does not arise when the tenders were cancelled even before it were opened,” said Bokhiria in response to a question. The total value of the steel pipeline to be procured through the cancelled tender was Rs 3,000 crore and another tender was to be invited subsequently for Rs 7,000 crore. Bokhiria said that the state government would now issue tenders for SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Irrigation Yojana) and Sujlam-Suflam irrigation schemes after Diwali.
Modhwadia, quoting the state government’s purchase policy, said that the policy did not allow purchase of “imported steel plate or plate manufactured from imported steel slab” and insisted that the steel plate or slab be procured from local manufacturers. The steel plate are used for moulding them into pipelines for carrying irrigation water.
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“But the water resources department changed the tender conditions after receipt of tenders from bidders, by allowing Welspun to buy steel plates or slabs from China,” alleged Modhwadia, alleging “it was done at the insistence of Water Resources Minister Babubhai Bokhiria”.
Modhwadia also questioned giving sub-contract to a Chinese company for building Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s 182-metre tall statue. “While Prime Minister Narendra Modi collected agricultural implements scrap from all over the country promising people to use the material in making Sardar Patel’s statue, the BJP government in the state is getting the statue built by a Chinese company,” he alleged. He said that Sardar Patel always used “swadeshi” goods. “Had he been alive today, he would not have allowed his statue to be built by a foreign company,” Modhwadia said.