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Cable connectivity, other projects: Industry seeks easier bid criteria

“22 foreign and Indian companies raised their concerns against the eligibility criteria, which are neither as per the CVC guidelines nor ITU standards due to which most of the interested companies are not able to bid,” TEMA’s letter to Prakash read.

Written by Aashish Aryan | New Delhi |
March 28, 2021 6:27:17 am
Cable connectivity, other projects: Industry seeks easier bid criteriaKute had been suffering from kidney stones for the past 30 years, according to Ajni Police.

Domestic telecom equipment makers have written to Department of Telecommunications (DoT) Secretary Anshu Prakash, seeking his intervention to ensure that their bids are also accepted in projects such as submarine cable connectivity between Lakshadweep and Kochi.

In one such letter to Prakash on Thursday, the Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association (TEMA) of India — a representative body of electronics, mobile, telecom, electronic system design and manufacturing companies — said that of the 25 bidders present in a pre-bid meeting for the submarine cable connectivity between Lakshadweep and Kochi, as many as 22 raised objections against the eligibility criteria.

“22 foreign and Indian companies raised their concerns against the eligibility criteria, which are neither as per the CVC guidelines nor ITU standards due to which most of the interested companies are not able to bid,” TEMA’s letter to Prakash read. Thursday’s letter to Prakash, however, is not the first time that the issue of stringent eligibility criteria put in place by state-run telcos such as Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) has been raised by domestic equipment makers.

Earlier too, these companies had, before the implementation of the Calcutta-Andaman Nicobar Islands (CANI) connectivity project, raised objections on the strict criteria in place for bidders, both foreign and Indian. State-run telecom company BSNL, however, decided to go ahead with the plan.

“After the project, several bidders from India and abroad contacted us and expressed how they were unable to bid due to stringent eligibility criteria. The CANI project ended up having a single bidder. We are hoping that some of these conditions will be relaxed so that there could be more bidders for the Kochi project,” a senior executive with a domestic telecom equipment maker said.

The CANI project, India’s first ever undersea optical fibre connectivity project, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last August, while the work for laying of cables started in December 2018. The 2,312 km-long cable connectivity project is being implemented at a cost of Rs 1,224 crore. The project was won by NEC Technologies India, a subsidiary of Japan’s NEC Japan, and other bidders alleged that the domestic subsidiary had shown the experience of its parent company to qualify for the stringent criteria.

For the Kochi-Lakshadweep Islands project, only NEC Technologies India and Alcatel have made it to the final round, as other companies have been filtered out due to the stringent conditions, sources said. “Even established Indian companies like Sterlite and L&T have not been shortlisted as they do not have any experience in submarine cable laying. We are hoping that some norms are relaxed so that there is healthy competition,” an executive said.

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