Why the Swami Samarth Nagar Kanjurmarg Metro 6 Tenders had to be Rejected

Anomalies have forced the cancellation of rolling stocks, technical systems, and other projects that are essential to running the ₹6,700-crore line on the corridor.

Attention India
5 Min Read

Mumbai: On October 19, 2023, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) unexpectedly closed bids for the purchase of rolling stocks, technical systems, and other projects that are necessary to run the ₹6,700-crore Metro 6 line on the Swami Samarth Nagar-Kanjurmarg corridor. At first glance, this cancellation seems similar to past bureaucratic roadblocks in large-scale infrastructure projects. The problem was far more serious, though, and over the course of the next sixty days, MMRDA executives worked nonstop to create a completely new tender document for the metro project—a feat that typically takes three to four months.

For Metro 6, MMRDA requested a thorough tender document early last month. On February 26, MMRDA conducted a pre-bid meeting to review procedures for acquiring rolling stocks, signaling systems, platform screen doors, and telecommunication equipment for the metro line, among other things. Let’s take a quick look back at what transpired during those 60 days before moving on to the present.

What did these bids not include?

Because of significant irregularities in the tender materials and inconsistencies in the procedures, MMRDA authorities had to cancel the tenders in October 2023. Sources report a disregard for the Central Vigilance Commission’s mandatory instructions, international procurement standards, and the Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety’s observations.

“During our examination of bid documents authorized by global banks and PMCs, we discovered that some fundamental guidelines that are required for metro rail projects worldwide and even some government-approved guiding principles for metro rail were absent,” an MMRDA representative stated. “There was a serious error.”

It is said that there were significant errors in the paperwork created for the purchase of rolling stock and other systems. Among these were unclear maintenance schedules for the metro rakes and the codal life, or typical machine longevity. It is important to note that both—local trains, for example—have a codal life of 25 to 30 years, which can be extended to 35 years by Indian Railways through periodic maintenance schedule extensions.

A top MMRDA official claimed, “They never took this critical factor (codal life and maintenance) into account when preparing the tender document for the metro rakes.” Project management consultants are international firms with experience drafting and completing comparable documentation for other metro lines throughout the globe. The tender specification did not specify the duration for which the metro rakes would be deemed suitable. They also failed to present the maintenance schedule.

In these sixty days, what took place?

Following the cancellation of the tenders, the MMRDA authorities contacted the foreign organizations that had assisted with their preparation and requested an explanation. The consultants and MMRDA officers received show-cause notices. “It even extended to the potential blacklisting of international project management consultants, who work on infrastructure and metro projects all over the world,” a government representative stated.

According to those with knowledge, in November, meetings were held with MMRDA officials and senior executives of multilateral agencies who had flown in from Europe. As it was a matter of their reputation, “They wanted to know the rationale behind the show cause notices and the threat to blacklist their agencies,” a senior MMRDA official stated. We enumerated the flaws in the tendering procedure as well as the documentation process. We gave them 45 days to revise a fresh set of tender documents.

A new tender is requested.

For Metro 6 (which runs from Swami Samarth Nagar in Andheri Lokhandwala to Vikhroli on the Eastern Express Highway), the MMRDA issued a call for new tenders in January. The MMRDA planned to purchase the rolling stock, signaling and train control, telecommunications, car-shed machinery, and platform screen doors.

By introducing a new tender, it will be ensured that international businesses with expertise in other technical areas and focused on producing metro rakes and signaling systems will participate in the bidding process. With a current tender valued at ₹2,064.63 crore, MMRDA would acquire 108 standard-gauge cars (18 rakes of six coaches each) for Metro 6.

We are seeking bids from interested parties by April 2 for the work, which includes design, manufacturing, supply, testing, commissioning, and maintenance. With assistance from the National Development Bank, the elevated 15.31-km-long Metro 6 is currently over 60% complete and is being built at a cost of ₹6,716 million. We anticipate finishing this December or early in 2025.

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