The Punjab local bodies department has announced relaxation in single-bid tender norms, introduced in 2018 on the recommendations of the then local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu citing corruption.
The municipal corporations (MCs) in the state will now not have to float the tender for a project for the third, if there are less than three valid technical bids for the same each time. The contract can now be awarded to the bidder in the second attempt. Earlier, the authorities were allowed to award the contract with less than three bids in the third attempt.
The officials said this would not only save money on publication of tenders, but will also save time. The process to award the contract, which used to take around one-and-a-half months, would now be completed in 35 days.
An MC official, requesting anonymity, said even after Sidhu imposed single-bid norms, not much change was witnessed at the ground level. In most cases, the MC received less than three bids even after floating the tender for the third time. The same contractor, who had submitted a bid in the first attempt, got the contract even after the contract was floated for the third time. It may be due to a pool, formed by the contractors, or due to the less number of contractors with expertise to take up a particular project.
MC superintending engineer (SE) HS Bhullar said, “The MC has received the notification and the single-bid contracts can now be awarded in the second attempt. This will save both time and money.”
Sidhu had suspended four SEs in Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar in 2017 stating that projects worth hundreds of crores were allotted to contractors on a single bid with no competition, during the SAD-BJP regime in the state.
The single-bid tender row had remained in the headlines as Congress MLAs, including Bharat Bhushan Ashu (now cabinet minister) and Sanjay Talwar, also lashed out at Sidhu in 2018, claiming that the single-bid tender norms were delaying only development projects.