Deadlock over awarding contract for Rs 180-crore traffic project

Deadlock over awarding contract for Rs 180-crore traffic project
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Thiruvananthapuram: Even as a controversy rages over the Rs 180-crore Integrated Digital Traffic Enforcement System, it has emerged that a technical committee tasked with awarding the contract stands divided over the issue.

Two public sector undertakings - Keltron and SIDCO - are in contention. The project aims to install surveillance cameras at 1,000 spots to identify traffic violations and levy fines.

The 11-member technical committee is led by ADGP Tomin Thachankary. Apart from IG G Lakshmanan, DIG P Prakash, SP John Kutty, traffic AC Sulfikar, the committee also includes representatives of IT Mission, C-DAC and the motor vehicles department.

After the committee members awarded high marks to both establishments, the chairman and some members did not sign on the final report.

While a Thiruvananthapuram-based firm is backing Keltron's bid, a Coimbatore firm is with SIDCO.

The committee meet held in December gave 98.5 marks out of 100 to Keltron, citing that it had several years of experience in this field. G Lakshmanan had led the meet. Thachankary and Prakash did not participate in the meet as they were out of town. Prakash refused to accept the committee decision and did not sign the minutes of the meeting.

Another meet was held two weeks ago in which all the members took part.

It was contended that a Chinese company, a partner of the Coimbatore firm, has experience of installing cameras even at airports.

Then SIDCO was also given more than 90 marks. However, Lakshmanan did not sign this.

The chairman will sign only after all the members have put in their signatures.

The rival camp also came up with objection to SIDCO. With the police divided over the issue, the tender process has hit a roadblock.

Huge profits for contract company

As per the contract, the company can take 90 per cent of the revenue generated from the fines that would be levied during 10 years, while the government would get only the remaining amount.

Last year alone, the police and motor vehicles department collected Rs 250 crore in penalties for traffic violations. That means the contract company would be able to recover the Rs 180-crore investment in a year. As the contract is for 10 years, the company would be able to walk away with a huge profit.

Home secretary dismisses CAG report

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Vishwas Mehta has dismissed the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report that raised several allegations against the police force, including a shortage of bullets and rifles. The secretary's report said the rifles had not gone missing, there were no lapses in the purchase of luxury vehicles, and that there was nothing unlawful in awarding contracts via Keltron.

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