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BSNL defends Nokia tender amidst ‘Make in India’ concerns

Amidst the controversy over BSNL awarding a Rs 1,000 crore tender for supply of optical transport network (OTN) equipment to Nokia, BSNL CMD PK Purwar on Monday told FE that the company has strictly followed the government guidelines in reference to the Make in India procurement policy for the tender process.

“The company has not flouted any policy and is strictly in line with the Make in India vision,” Purwar said, adding that the tender is yet to be given. Purwar, however, refused to share more details on the tender as it is under consideration at present.

Under the Make in India public procurement policy, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has notified that all public sector companies as well as government departments must give certain preference to local companies in terms of procuring the supplies.

Official sources said that when a tender has an order value of above Rs 200 crore, DPIIT guidelines suggest that both Indian and Foreign companies products can be there. However, with regard to the current BSNL tender, HFCL, which is a homegrown equipment supplier, is the lowest bidder and it will be fulfilling the order with Nokia India once awarded, a senior government official said on the condition of anonymity.

Lately, major telecom companies such as Reliance Jio and Airtel have been using equipments from equipment makers like Nokia for their network connectivity.

With regard to the BSNL tender, Delhi-based Voice of Indian Communication Technology Enterprises (VoICE)consortium has also written to communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw expressing concern over how local equipment suppliers are being ruled out in such tender processes. VoICE represents local equipment suppliers.

“It is not right that local companies are being rejected in government companies/department tenders. They are the most trusted source,” said Rakesh Bhatnagar, director general of VoICE consortium.

According to Bhatnagar, the tender of Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) and UTL consortium was rejected by BSNL on ground of lacking trusted source approval requirement and absence of bank guarantee.

Sources said that BSNL earlier rejected the bid of Tejas Networks citing the reason that it was the single bid that the company had got. The company’s bid was nearly 20% higher than that of HFCL-Nokia, officials said. Financial Express

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