Thursday November 30, 2023

Dasu 765KV line: NTDC takes up bidding process questioned by ministry today

Sources claim board of directors of the NTDC are going to consider the controversial bidding process

September 12, 2022

LAHORE: A transmission utility has been accused of ignoring clear observation of the Ministry of Energy, Power Division, about declaring bidding process for laying 765KV Dasu transmission line as mis-procurement due to gross lapses regarding viability of successful bidder, official documents available with The News revealed.

Even the ministry asked the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) to take disciplinary action against the general manager concerned for approving the bidding process in violation of relevant rules and regulations regarding alleged misrepresentation of facts by the successful bidder and its wrongful qualification.

Sources claimed the board of directors of the NTDC, in its upcoming meeting scheduled to be held on Monday (today), are going to consider the controversial bidding process.

To be established in two stages, the Dasu Transmission Line is a 765KV overhead line with a length of 250 kms from Dasu Hydropower Plant, Dasu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to Islamabad. The specific tender relating to design, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of 765KV double circuit Dasu–Mansehra–Islamabad transmission lines was floated by the NTDC last year and the Power Division raised objections to the bidding process in July 07, 2022.

Allegedly, the Bid Evaluation Report has several variations. In the first four versions, the consultant declared the successful bidder as responsive. Later, in the fifth variation on February 16, 2022, the consultant declared the successful bidder non-responsive. Later on March 17, 2022, the consultant allegedly ignored the auditor’s observation regarding the submission of consolidated financial statements by the successful bidder in violation of rules and regulations.

Regarding the consultant responsible for assisting in assessing bids, the Power Division advised the managing director, NTDC, to place case before the BoD to assess and decide whether the foreign consultant should continue to perform its duties for the said project.

In its letter, the Power Division observed that pre-qualification documents of bidder did not provide such an application or logic for making the bidder responsive. One of the major objections in this regard was the observation that the previous role of successful bidder was only for civil work and there was no experience of EPC basis in laying transmission lines.

The Power Division stressed the need to look into the facts whether such gross violation was a neglect or wilful default.

The Ministry of Energy also noted the World Bank’s suggestion about availability of addition resources by the successful bidder for broader scope of the project, stating that this may not be in line with the pre-qualification of bidding documents.

In the last couple of months since issuance of direction by the Ministry of Energy, the sources alleged the NTDC management faltered on taking action against its officials. Similarly, no action was yet taken against the consultant for alleged wrongful evaluation in the pre-qualification process.

Such delinquency and indecisiveness on the part of NTDC may lead to delaying work on one of the most crucial power transmission lines in the country, claimed the sources. It may result in awarding construction work to a company that lacks any experience in setting up transmission line.

The sources claimed that only one of the most experienced specialised companies should be given this work under a transparent process for laying the transmission line in most challenging mountainous terrain, which is touted as third pole of the world.

Regarding alleged wrongful evaluation of bids, the secretary, Ministry of Energy, Power Division, was of the view that the managing director, NTDC is the right person to be asked questions about alleged lapses in the bidding process.

When contacted, both the MD and chairman BoD, NTDC, did not share their point of view on the violations indicated by the Ministry of Energy, Power Division, in awarding work for laying the transmission line. Sources close to NTDC bosses, however, defend their decisions.