Did the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu create a special budget in the name of Polavaram? The government of India sanctioned only Rs. 3545 crores as an incentive to electric buses for the next three years. But, Chandrababu is alleging a scam of over Rs. 7500 crores in electric buses. Does Chandrababu’s motive behind these allegations make sense? Even though the state government does not have any freedom and power to purchase or lease electric buses,why is Babu claiming that the state is buying the buses? In fact, he wants to escape the irregularities and corruption he was involved in. No wonder he has come out with such unrealistic accusations against the state government and the ruling party.
When APSRTC had no intention to buy Electric buses, how can it possibly to buy buses from Olectra? As the losses are mounting for APSRTC, the state road transport corporation stopped purchasing new buses and is running on leased buses for the past few years. Even now, the corporation is following the method as per the DHI guidelines. Telangana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and many other states transport corporations are procuring buses from companies like Olectra. When Chandrababu Naidu was in power, on 3rd May 2018 he himself travelled in the Olectra electric bus and praised the company’s efforts in bringing environment-friendly buses. He also promised to run the electric buses in various cities and towns in the state along with Tirumala-Tirupati.
Now, he is accusing the APSRTC of buying electric buses on Quid pro quo basis. Olectra Greentech is a subsidiary company of the Megha group. Megha Engineering took part in the Polavaram tender and quoted 12.6% lesser than the base price. Unless the court clears this tender, the state government cannot award these works to anyone. But, Chandrababu Naidu and his party's senior leaders allege that the state government is giving Rs. 7500 crore on quid pro quo basis to Megha Engineering by buying Olectra buses.
APSRTC does not have a policy to buy buses. The government of India, under the FAME-2 policy framework, sanctioned 350 buses to Andhra Pradesh. As per the policy framework, all the states are procuring busses on a gross cost contract basis. This contract will apply for 12 years at a predetermined price per kilometre basis. The electric buses should run 3.98 crore kilometre in a year. Initially, the government wants to pay Rs 39 per kilometre. But whoever quotes the lesser price, the government will go with the agreement. For this purpose, the financial bids will be open on 14 October, 2019.
Tender value only Rs 144 crore.
Where is Rs 7500 crore quid pro quo?
APSRTC is preparing a budget with Rs. 144 crore outlay to wet-lease the buses. Even though RTC came out with a clear budget plan, Chandrababu is alleging Rs 7500 corruption in the tendering process. No one knows whether Olectra will get this tender or not. Even if Olectra gets all 350 bus contracts, the value of the contract is approximately Rs 144 crore per year. After meeting the operating costs, Olectra may reap profit or even suffer losses. Even if the company gets 350 buses GCC order, the entire tender amount will not reap profits. That is the only turnover for the company. For the next five years, with this contract, the company may achieve a turnover of Rs 720 crores. As a shareholder of the company, Megha Engineering will get this amount. In this backdrop, Chandrababu Naidu must explain how Rs. 7500 crore quid pro quo is taking place.
When Chandrababu Naidu was in power, there were several allegations that his party colleagues benefited to the extent of Rs. 2400 crore in Polavaram works. The new government appointed an expert committee that proved the allegations true with relevant evidence. The expert committee report has proven that corruption and irregularities took place in TDP government. Even prime minister Narendra Modi stated that the TDP government had used Polavaram Project as an ATM. The past government also did not complete the project by December 2018. They did not even begin the rehabilitation process. In this background, bidding at a lower rate had irked Chandrababu and his associates. As corruption allegations on Babu are being proved, to nullify the allegations he has come out with Quid pro quo card once again. The yellow media has also helped him promote quid pro quo allegations. They are making baseless allegations and misleading people.
The government of India allocated Rs. 10,000 crore for the next three years for electric mobility in the country. The department of heavy industries (DHI) released the guidelines to procure 7000 electric buses for all state transport corporations. The government of India also sanctioned Rs. 3545 crore incentives to the states. But, Chandrababu accused a double of the allocated funds for whole India. The DHI sanctioned 350 buses to Andhra Pradesh. As per the guidelines, the annual budget will be around Rs. 144crore. According to this outlay, APSRTC is come up with a procurement e-tender. With this RTC is expected to save about Rs 1000 crore per year. The industry bodies are surprising with Chandrababu’s allegations.
Along with Olectra, Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland are also manufacturing electric buses in the county. In a recent pre-bid meeting, about 27 representatives of 18 companies participated. Most of them did not have the experience in running the buses in hills or high altitude areas like Tirumala Tirupathi ghat roads. Olectra already has an experience of successfully running the buses highest altitude Manali-Rorathang pass and entered LimcaBook of Records.
The DHI selected 64 cities in the county for electric mobility and sanctioned the incentives. All states must adhere to the guidelines of DHI and follow the e-tendering process to procure the buses. According to these directions of DHI, the APSRTC called for the tenders. In this regard, APSRTC released a 237-page draft concession agreement and a 110-page request for proposal for selection of an operator for procurement, operation and maintenance of 350 AC electric buses. If anyone reads these documents will know the reality in Chandrababu’s allegations. The selections of buses, incentives, the number of buses and all related rules and regulations are prescribed by the DHI. The state transport corporations must follow these guidelines to get the incentives. Even the cities also selected by the DHI. Whoever quotes the least rate per kilometre will be awarded the tender on a wet-lease basis. Anyone can get out of 18 companies participated in the pre-bid meeting. In these conditions, APSRTC cannot award the contract at their discretion.
Olectra buses are successfully running in various states. With the technology partnership with BYD of China, Olectra has been manufacturing the electric buses at their Shadnagar plant. Olectra electric buses is a well-received, better performing bus as compared to other buses. Andhra Pradesh is now considering utilising the central governments’ benefits and introduces the electric buses in the state. Even after these clear policy guidelines, Chandrababu Naidu accusations are completely politically motivated.