Shimla - Himachal Pradesh Government overlooking High Court order and scrutiny by the Supreme court decided to retender a multi-million dollar hydropower project.
It was done as the state council of ministers decided to re-allot the project to the second highest bidder Reliance energy and pay back the forfeited amount of Rs 283 crore upfront premium along with interest to Ms Adani.
The matter is pending before the SC on counter claims over this project as Reliance Infrastructure and previous bidder, the Netherlands-based Brakel Corp.
The cabinet, presided over by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, last evening approved global bids for Reliance of 960-MW Thopan-Powari-Jangi project in Kinnaur district. Famous for its luscious apples, Ms Adani which mysteriously filled application to claim about Rs 500 Cr of Rs 283 Cr upfront premium and 15 per cent rate of interest on this amount since 2008 was given approval by the council of ministers.
The project was allotted to Brakel in 2008. But the Himachal Pradesh High Court annulled it to October 7, 2009, on a plea by Reliance Infra, one of the bidders. Brakel moved the Supreme Court but withdrew to pursue remedies suggested by the apex court in its order April 1. Reliance Infra's petition challenging the state's decision not to allot the project to it is pending in the apex court.
The high court wanted the state government to take a "fresh decision as to whether it wants to re-advertise the project or wants to act on the basis of the old tender". State government also gave consent to re allot this project to Reliance in out of court settlement which was accepted by later. Unsettled financial issues with two firms that Reliance and Brakel became bone of discontent to state when Adani emerged in the deal staking claims over the up front premium recently. However Brakel officials expressed objection stating that government seems to be going for fresh bidding in a hurried manner without resolving the financial implications with us," told an official of Brakel, who wished not to be named as he was not authorised to speak.
The government, he said, has failed to resolve two issues: Forfeiture of the company's up-front premium of Rs 280.69 crore ($46.78 million) and the damages of Rs 2,717 crore levied on it for causing a loss to the state exchequer by delaying the project. "We got a show-cause notice from the government March 28 about forfeiture of up-front premium and imposition of penalty. We filed the reply within one month of the notice. Till date, there is no reply from the government," said the official.