AFTER FACING a controversy over first time purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) suits for the fire brigade in 2009, the BMC claims to have plugged the loopholes in the tendering process which had landed the supplier into a litigation. The BMC is in the process of buying around 2,430 new PPE suits which will have to go through a stringent checklist before a manufacturer is finalised.
Confirming the tender, additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh said, “The tendering for the customised PPEs was started about one and a half months ago. The suits, which will cumulatively cost around Rs 35 crore, will be thoroughly tested before the lowest bidder is finalised.” The fire brigade currently has 2,320 PPE suits which had cost the BMC between Rs 60,000-Rs 80,000 per piece back in 2009. Now each suit, which is expected to last for 10 years, will cost approximately Rs 1.4 lakh depending on the foreign exchange rates. Of the total nine bidders, only one is a Chennai-based company. The rest are foreign firms.
Officials in the fire brigade stated that price bids will be determined following a meticulous verification process to avoid a similar controversy, where the company which was given the tender had submitted forged documents. The corporators had also raised allegations against the BMC of having purchased the suits at a much higher rate. As a result, apart from the certification of production, the BMC has now also asked for the certification of the production facility as well. “We have also mandated the submission of an experience certificate of minimum five years as well as a minimum supply criteria,” said a senior fire official.
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Unlike the last tender, the bidding for all the equipments took place after segregating them into three different groups. While the first group comprises supply of gloves, trousers, coat and hood, the helmet falls in the second group and the shoes in the third. “Last time we had no segregation and as a result of which many traders had participated in the bidding process instead of manufacturers. This time we have divided it and have received response from four bidders for the first group, three for the second and two for the third,” said the official.
The ongoing verification process will be completed in another week after which the tender committee will decide the price bids. A sample from the lowest bidder will then be tested before finalising the supplier. If the sample fails to meet the standards prescribed in the tender document, the next lowest bidder will be considered.
The changes which have happened against the previous process of giving tender also include a third party inspection of the suit by a private company. “After initial testing of the fabric, we will hire a private company which will conduct an inspection of the suit at the factory prior to dispatching the consignment. Even after the consignment arrives, one whole suit will be picked randomly and will be tested before being accepted,” the official further said.