20-08-201920-08-2019 13:28:38 IST
2019-08-20T07:58:38.936Z20-08-2019 2019-08-20T07:57:28.794Z - - 30-03-2020
In an inevitable fallout that was largely anticipated over the cancellation of Polavaram works contract, construction giant Navayuga Engineering Company Limited (NECL) has filed a petition in the Andhra Pradesh High Court challenging the state government’s decision.
The YSRCP government of Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy on August 14th served notices to Navayuga, the major contractor of Polavaram project asking it to exit the contract. A quash petition filed by the contracting company came up for hearing in the state high court on Tuesday.
Presenting the company’s arguments, its counsel sought the annulment of the state government’s decision on August 14th scrapping Navayuga’s agreement for the Polavaram project works. Taking strong exception to the new government’s policy of reverse-tendering, the company contended that ending the contract abruptly and midway through the project works is illegal and inappropriate.
Citing this contention, Navayuga sought its re-instatement as the contractor for the prestigious irrigation project. The high court, after hearing the petitioner’s arguments, adjourned the case for further hearing.
Navayuga received the contract worth over Rs 4,000 crores during the TDP regime of Chandrababu Naidu. It came in as a replacement for earlier contracting company Transstroy belonging to Rayapati Sambasiva Rao.
But the Chandrababu Naidu government entrusting the major contract pertaining to key project works to Navayuga on nomination basis and bypassing the tendering process has raised many eyebrows. The YSRCP, then in opposition, turned it into one of its potent weapons against what it alleged as ‘massive-scale corruption by the TDP government’.
Soon after coming to power a few months ago, Jaganmohan Reddy announced the controversial policy of ‘reverse-tendering’ as a means to crack down on corruption. While this move hogged nationwide headlines, it came in for severe criticism from multiple quarters including the Centre.
The Narendra Modi government has on many occasions expressed its displeasure calling the move as regressive and detrimental to the interests of the state. The Polavaram Project Authority was the most recent to find fault with the state government’s approach, expressing concerns of consequent delays in the execution of the project works besides further escalation of the project cost.
Despite the all-pervading criticism, Jaganmohan Reddy refused to relent and on the contrary decided to firmly bulldoze ahead with his plans. Based on a report submitted by the expert panel that it constituted, the state government on August 14th decided to end the contract to Navayuga, prompting it to take its fight to the judiciary.
Interestingly, there have been conflicting opinions on the issue of alleged corruption and favouritism in the awarding of the Polavaram contract to Navayuga. While the report of the state government’s expert panel ‘unearthed’ corruption running into a few thousand crores of rupees, the Centre gave a clean chit to the contracting company and the previous TDP government in this regard.
Against this backdrop, the focus now shifts to the legal battle and the high court’s verdict on the Navayuga petition will determine which way the dispute will be heading in future.
-Durga Prasad Kanamaluru
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