The project for setting up a free WiFi network in the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) zone has received a setback with the NDMC cancelling the letter of intent (LOI) given to Indus Towers to set up WiFi systems on “smart poles” in the area.
Appearing before the Delhi High Court bench of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva on Friday, the NDMC counsel said it had taken the decision to cancel the tender process and will float a fresh tender “giving complete specifications” for the smart poles.
The 18,300 “smart poles”, which would have CCTV cameras, WiFi and LED bulbs, are to be installed in the New Delhi area. A tender for the same was floated earlier this year.
The High Court on May 27 had issued an interim stay and directed the NDMC to not sign the contract for award of tender to Indus Towers, till the bench could hear the plea filed by Reliance Jio. It had challenged the LOI on grounds that the tender conditions were “vague”.
“The matter cannot be stalled due to the objections raised,” the NDMC counsel told the court on Friday, adding that “new specifications” would be provided in the fresh tender.
Reliance Jio, in its plea, had alleged that the tender conditions did not specify the standards of the equipment that is to be installed. The bench in its May 27 order had also observed that the “vagueness” could “not be allowed to stand”.
“The public will get rubbish lamps and cameras that can’t distinguish between a man and a woman,” the court had observed.
Reliance Jio has now withdrawn its plea and has said that it would get a “level playing field” once the new tender is floated.
The Rs 220 crore project, which is expected to be commissioned in three years, was to be a service contract — where the company was to install, maintain and operate the ‘smart poles’ for a period of 10 years. The contract could also be extended for a further 10 years by the government.
In the previous hearing, the NDMC had argued that the government had not given specifications for the equipment due to the long duration of the contract.