Rivals resort to false allegations as firm gets J&K school contract

TNN Bureau. Updated: 2/17/2020 9:13:58 AM Front Page

JAMMU: A number of companies have launched a smear campaign resorting to mass spread of frivolous and self contradictory allegations against a firm which has bagged a contract for providing scientific equipment to Jammu and Kashmir schools.
The long-drawn business rivalry between these firms is attempting to bring bad name to the ambitious procurement process of Jammu and Kashmir School Education Department, as a series of letters by the business competitors to the contract-winning firm have been shot to various government offices including that of Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu.
A high level panel of the Samagra Shiksha department, after a rigorous process of weighing in credentials together with efficiency and cost effectiveness, zeroed in on the Delhi based company namely M/S Chinar Scientific Industries for supply of NCERT educational kits across schools in all districts of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Smagra Shiksha Directorate had on January 24, 2020, issued request for Proposal for Procurement of Educational School Kits Developed by NCERT under Parallel Rate Contract. This proposal was required to be submitted by January 30 2020.
According to officials and material on record, some 16 firms had initially expressed interest and then the process was narrowed to eleven following the criteria and suitability.
A high level committee set up by the directorate examined all proposals and zeroed in on three firms after a rigorous process of negotiations. Of the three firms –Chinar from Delhi, Ahuja from Ambala and Abhilasha from Noida –the Chinar was chosen on the basis of its competitive offer for around 80% of the required supplies. Among the irresistible offers made by Chinar were, an advantage of saving around Rs 2 Crores in account of SGST, commitment to complete the order within 45 days, delivery of kits at district level and training to the teachers at district headquarters.
Subsequently, February 2, 2020, the directorate placed order with Chinar Scientific Industries subject to 21 conditions making it impossible for the company to run away even with an iota of default.
Even while the company was participating in the bidding process and negotiations, some renewed rivals began to write letters and exert pressure on the department for ticking the Chinar Industries off.
This is the same NCERT-empanelled firm which had bagged contract from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan wing of the School Education Department for supply of scientific kits to the schools in the year 2017. Even then, a Haryana based ‘complainant’ trio, with similar business interests, had shot off letters to a number of offices including that of the then Chief Minister, Education Minister and the Chief Secretary questioning the award of supply contract.
The ‘complainants’ had alleged that Chinar Scientific Industries had in the past been blacklisted by Haryana state for defaulting in a similar supply order. The government had then thoroughly examined the complaints and stood by the award of supply order to Chinar Scientific Industries, and the firm fulfilled its commitment.
This time around also, a chain of communication has been triggered after the jittery rivals wrote letters to different government offices including that of the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Secretary. Some self styled journalists and activists are also acting as representatives of some supply companies and making rounds of different offices with some unsubstantiated allegations.
On Saturday afternoon, an unsigned email carrying a note titled ‘Press Release’ which resembled, in construction, to news story was mass spread to all media houses and individual journalists across Jammu and Kashmir to sound a fake scam alert.
The note originating from some Shubra Saxena, bearing no address or locus standi of the complainant, calls in question the award of contract to Chinar Scientific Industries.
A careful examination of all allegations actually calls out the propaganda of the so called complainant as their ‘factors’ are not only self contradictory but also uphold the decision of the Smagra Shiksha department.
The mail trail originating from vidyatechnoart@gmail.com in the name of Shubra Saxena (a likely representative of M/S Vidya Techno Art, also a scientific supplies firm) alleged that the Chinar Scientific Industries was blacklisted by Haryana government in 2015 for defaulting in supplies of educational kits, and offers as evidence two letters to support the claim.
The RTI reply of Haryana School Education department says ‘no such record is available’ on file. Not obliged by Haryana, the rival firms wrote to the NCERT for blacklisting the said firm. In its terse reply to applicant M/S Alcon Scientific Industries, the NCERT said, among other things, “no further communication can be entertained in this matter being your representation devoid of merit”.
Interestingly, far from being blacklisted in 2015, the Haryana government engaged the Chinar Scientific Industries as recently as in 2019-20 and has issued a certificate for successful competition of the supplies order within stipulated period.
The second allegation said that the Chinar Scientific Industries has changed its GST number in violation of the NCERT norms, whereas the NCERT doesn’t prevent firms from setting up offices anywhere.
In fact, the Chinar Scientific Industries has registered a sub office in Jammu and Kashmir much to the benefit of the state exchequer. With a GST number registered in the client territory, the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory exchequer stands benefited by Rs 2 Cr on account of SGST.
The ‘complainant’ also has presumed that the Company would not be able to complete the supply order within stipulated time and would definitely seek extension.
However, at this stage, the only guarantee is the Jammu and Kashmir Supplies order, interestingly also circulated by Shubra Saxena, which clearly mentions stipulated time period and corresponding penalties in case of default.

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