No undue favour to Adani Group in awarding Dharavi redevelopment project, says Maharashtra govt

No undue favour to Adani Group in awarding Dharavi redevelopment project, says Maharashtra govt

The Maharashtra government recently filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court stating that the tender process for the Dharavi redevelopment project is “absolutely transparent” and “no undue favour” was given to the highest bidder, Adani Group.

Through the affidavit, the state government refuted allegations that the cancellation of the old tender was politically motivated. It termed these allegations as “false and baseless”. The affidavit was filed in response to a plea filed by Seclink Technologies, a Dubai-based company that had bid for the project and lost to Adani Properties.

Seclink had filed the petition challenging the cancellation of a 2018 tender and the award of the new tender with new conditions to the Adani group company in 2022.

Demanding that the baseless allegations be penalised, the affidavit said, “The petitioner has made unfounded and reckless allegations such as actions of respondents being politically motivated without any basis or material as indeed none exists. For making such reckless allegations alone, the writ petition deserves to be dismissed with costs.” 

In the affidavit, the state highlighted that the new tender to redevelop the nearly 259-hectare slum drew more bidders than the old one. 

It added, “It is denied that the new tender was floated to favour respondent Adani Group. The new tender process was conducted in an absolutely transparent manner and in fact, the new tender attracted more bidders than those who had participated in the old tender.”

Now, a division bench led by Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya may take it for hearing on Thursday (31 August). 

The petition was filed through Ganesh and Co. and it alleged that the clauses of the new tender were added only to exclude Seclink as a bidder. It also alleged that the new tender wanted to ensure that Adani won the bid. 

However, the government, through its affidavit, clearly stated that there was no question of excluding anyone’s participation. They added that the bids were required to be submitted afresh and the petitioner (STC) also could have submitted a bid by complying with the terms and conditions of the new tender.

Earlier in 2022, on the 13th of July, the Maharashtra government appointed Adani Properties Pvt Ltd as the lead partner in the project, and a work order was issued on 17 July.   

Important details of the new tender

The affidavit stated that the new tender imposed a liability on the bidder to pay a minimum payment of Rs 2,800 crore to the Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) as land owned by the railways was included in the redevelopment project.

It highlighted that this amount was over and above the price bid. Furthermore, there was an additional cost for constructing railway quarters on approximately 84,000 square meters of land. 

The State added that the new tender also required the bidder to accommodate non-eligible (around 7 lakhs) slum tenements in affordable housing or under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. 

In the old tender, Seclink made a Rs 7,200 crore price bid which was cancelled by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in October 2020. However, With a commitment of Rs 7,869 crore (Rs 5,069 crore bid + Rs 2800 crore for RLDA) in the 2022 tender process, the Adani group was the highest bidder for the 259-hectare Dharavi Redevelopment Project. Therefore, the about bid by Adani is much more than the amount quoted by Seclink.

The State government said, “In view of these payments, Adani was declared as the highest bidder after it quoted ₹5,069 crores, with a final bid of ₹7,869 crores (which will infused by Adani into the redevelopment), exceeding the ₹7,200 crore price bid of Seclink (who bid under the old tender).” 

Further, the government categorically stated that Seclink’s allegation of “loss to the exchequer is false and misconceived”.

The affidavit argued that the bid amount, whether from the previous 2018 tender or the recent 2022 tender, was not required to be paid to the State as the consideration or revenue. Instead, it was solely required as an undertaking by the selected bidder to carry out the redevelopment project. The affidavit added that in view of this, the loss to the exchequer was not even a consideration. 

The government submitted before the court that the Dharavi redevelopment project was an “extremely vital public purpose project”. It added that the project would change the lives of thousands of people living in the slums. 

The affidavit asserted, “Any attempt made by persons to derail this redevelopment project should be thwarted as any stay on such projects would seriously impede the execution of the redevelopment project (which are of vital public importance).” 

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