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BSNL’s KLI project norms restrictive for participation of local players: TEPC

Domestic telecom gear makers have alleged that state-owned firm BSNL has included norms that restrict their participation in Rs 1,072 crore Kochi-Lakshadweep Islands submarine cable project.

Telecom product and equipment promotion body TEPC and TEMA have written to telecom secretary Anshu Prakash with apprehensions that the norms in the tender floated by BSNL may attract only single bid from a foreign player.

The local telecom gear makers have objected to the inclusion of repeater cables in the project. TEPC said that the technology is supported by only a few foreign companies and only one of them has submitted bids in the previous two tenders floated by BSNL.

Besides, TEPC has alleged that clauses like turnover of over Rs 1,400 crore, the experience of deploying repeater cable for at least 1,000 kilometres with a depth of 3,000 metres etc. are restrictive in nature and should be tuned as per minimum parameters set under chief vigilance commission guidelines.

“…It may be noted that repeatered technology is old technology and is supported only by a few companies, out of which only one company submitted a bid in previous tenders, who was selected and purchase order was placed even when it was a single bid case. Therefore, the repeatered cable system requirement is not justifiable in the KLI project,” TEPC said in a letter dated April 1 to the telecom secretary.

The telecom export promotion body supported by the commerce ministry and telecom department said the empowered technology group (ETG), led by Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) K Vijay Raghavan, has also recommended using only repeaterless technology to avoid high capital and operational expenditure without compromising Indian Navy”s requirement.

“It is also learnt that even the advice of ETG through PSA to the government of India was sidelined, leading to a possible hat-trick of single bids. It is learnt that TCIL, as a technical consultant, had also recommended repeaterless technology for the entire Kochi Lakshadweep Project,” TEPC said.

Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association of India (TEMA) in a letter to the telecom secretary said that against all odds the pre-bid was attended by 25 companies, including 15 Indian companies, on March 25.

“TEMA would like to mention that 22 foreign and Indian companies raised their concerns against the eligibility criteria, which are not as per CVC guidelines, ITU standards and as per actual requirements of the project, due to which these companies are not able to bid in the project,” TEMA chairman emeritus NK Goyal said.

TEPC said that “vocal for local” can only happen, if such Indian companies, who stand with the country during the need of the hour are encouraged by making them eligible to bid against foreign competition. PTI

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