Center cancels the tenders for TN's 'Bharatnet' project- Here's why!

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), that falls under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has canceled the tenders sought by the Tamil Nadu Fibernet Corporation Limited (TANFINET) in the Rs 2,000 crore worth BharatNet project, which was proposed by the Central government to enhance the internet connectivity across the country and to bring more rural areas under the roof of the internet. 

The cancellation has come when the Chennai based anti-corruption organization cited that there are irregularities in acquiring the tender to the project. According to the reports, the DPIIT has issued a statement on Friday -June 26, in which it has stated that the bidding conditions assimilated by the Tamil Nadu Fibernet Corporation Limited in the bidding documents found out to be on the grounds of restrictive and discrimination. 

Following such a state, the Central government department has canceled the tenders. The DPIIT has directed the TANFINET to revoke the tender with the current bidding documents and it should call the bids again with the non-restrictive grounds. The decision of canceling the tender was taken based on the virtual meeting held between various stakeholders on June 23. 

The meeting was attended by the additional secretary of DPIIT, Tamil Nadu government officers, TANFINET, and Chennai based anti-corruption NGO that has complained against the irregularities over the tenders. The Central government department has obtained the comments and feedback from the stakeholders following which it was decided to cancel the tenders with the current bidding documents.

The NGO has stated that the tenders bidded by TANFINET had reportedly favored some specific companies. The organization has also been moving complaints against the tenders to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, DPIIT, Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, Central Vigilance Commission, and the state department of telecommunications since April 2020.

Following its complaint, the DPIIT has directed the state government to put a stay on the project and asked it to disclose its response to the complaint that cited irregularities in the tender in May 2020. On June 23, the Central department had a virtual meeting with the stakeholders and has now canceled the tenders of the project.  The Central department has ordered the Tamil Nadu government not to make purchases connected to the project until the irregularities and concerns were addressed. According to the Central government, the nationwide Bharatnet project would be benefitting 6.25 lakh villages in India through the enhanced internet connectivity.