In a keenly fought race, Medha, a major domestic player in the rolling stock manufacturing sector, has edged past Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) with a wide margin and emerged as the lowest bidder in the Rs 1800 crore Vande Bharat train project.
There were only three participants including a Chinese entity in the race to bag the prestigious project involving manufacturing of 44 semi-high speed Vande Bharat trainsets indigenously.
While the Chinese bidder could not qualify, the final race was between BHEL, the State-run PSU and the domestic giant Medha.
According to railway sources, Medha is slated to bag the contract as it has quoted a lower price than the state-run PSU.
The price bid is opened now and the committee entrusted with the task is evaluating the financial aspect and will soon announce the lowest bidder, sources added.
Incidentally, though Medha had manufactured two Vande Bharat trains at ICF which were running successfully in the Indian rail network, it became an issue for a vigilance inquiry against senior officials for allegedly favouring the company.
However, nothing came of the vigilance inquiry and now Medha is again in the race to get the job.
While earlier, the tender was floated at ICF, this time Railway Board took the responsibility to do it.
This time, the specifications were revised with much focus on Make-in-India with stipulation of minimum local content of 75 per cent. The qualifying criteria was also stringent and as a result, only three players were able to enter the race.
As far as the Chinese bidder was concerned, a railway official said that the eligibility for a bidder from a country which shares a land border with India to participate in the tender shall be as per public procurement orders of the Ministry of Finance.
Manufactured by Medha, two semi-high-speed Vande Bharat trains were running on two routes in the country. In February 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the country’s first Vande Bharat train on the New Delhi-Varanasi route.
After this, the second Vande Bharat train was run between New Delhi and Katra. The train was flagged off by Home Minister Amit Shah on 3 October 2019.
Manufacturing of 44 Vande Bharat trainsets with 16 coaches each is expected to boost Make-in-India and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives of the government.
Vande Bharat train is to be equipped with modern facilities and amenities including European-style seats, modular toilets, on-board hotspot WiFi, GPS-based audio-visual passenger information system, LED lighting, automatic doors, among others.
Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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