Updated: May 13, 2021 8:01:48 am
THE BRIHANMUMBAI Municipal Corporation (BMC) Wednesday issued a global Expression of Interest (EoI) for procurement of one crore doses of vaccines for Mumbai. The EoI includes a condition that bids from companies in countries that share land borders with India will not be considered, which effectively bars any company from China.
“We are not aware of the Central government’s current policy. But we have decided to put in this condition in the tender to ban Chinese firms from participating in the EoI. There is a question on the quality aspects and other specifics of the Chinese vaccines. We are not accepting that (WHO approval),” P Velrasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects), told The Indian Express.
Interested companies are required to respond by May 18. The company finalised will have to deliver the vaccines within three weeks of the issue of work order, according to the EoI. “The finalised company will have to meet other compliance in India like import facilitation, getting essential registration,” Velrasu said.
The company is expected to quote rates on a per dose basis and produce vaccine trial reports, BMC officials said. The procurement is estimated to cost BMC about Rs 400 crore.
The total requirement of vaccines for the city is 1.50 crore for the 18-year plus population, an official said. “The BMC has resolved to make every possible effort in future also to acquire sufficient quantities of Covid vaccines to vaccinate all eligible citizens of Mumbai on war footing in the next 60-90 days,” said Municipal commissioner I S Chahal.
BMC had earlier said that along with Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII), it hopes for bids from Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik and Johnson & Johnson.
The state government decision to allow BMC to make its own arrangements for vaccines is likely influenced by civic body polls that are due before February-end 2022. “All political parties including Shiv Sena, which rules the corporation, agreed that this is required for immunisation of maximum number of people before polls. Also, the BMC can handle the financial burden,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
Earlier, the state government had said it would procure and supply vaccines to all corporations and other civic bodies in the state.
The tender condition that bidders should not belong to countries sharing borders with India is identical to the one introduced last year for infrastructure projects on directions from the Centre after the Galwan clash in eastern Ladakh in which 20 soldiers were killed.
Trade between the two countries has, however, continued, though at lower levels than in other years. In the last few weeks, after the government freed up customs duty on many emergency materials, there have been large imports of oxygen concentrators from China, along with other countries.
BMC officials said the condition was included as there was a question mark about the quality of the Chinese vaccine, even though it has received WHO approval. Sinopharm, the state-owned manufacturer of the Chinese vaccine, is providing vaccines to several neighbouring countries including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.