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Adani Ports moves HC challenging a Deendayal Port tender

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AHMEDABAD : Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) has challenged its exclusion from a tender issued by the Centre-owned Deendayal Port Authority to develop facilities for handling fertiliser and other clean cargo at one of its berths, citing an anti-competitive policy of 2010.

The ‘Policy for preventing private sector monopoly in major ports’ (owned by the Centre) was issued by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways in August 2010.

“If there is only one private terminal/berth operator in a port for a specific cargo, the operator of that terminal/berth or his associates shall not be allowed to bid for the next terminal/berth for handling the same cargo in the same port,” the policy reads. APSEZ had agreed to abide by the “monopoly policy” when it won a contract from Deendayal Port in 2012 to build a dry bulk cargo handling terminal at the port. The terminal started operations in December 2014.

Anti-competitive policy

“The monopoly policy was incorporated in the concession agreement signed between Adani Kandla Bulk Terminal Pvt Ltd (a unit of APSEZ) and Deendayal Port Authority in June 2012,” multiple sources said. “According to the concession agreement, APSEZ or its affiliates cannot participate in the next tender issued by Deendayal Port Authority for the same cargo,” a government official and one of the sources mentioned earlier, said.

“APSEZ has not been disqualified to participate in the tender for Berth No 14, but it cannot participate due to the monopoly policy,” the official added.

Gujarat HC relief

APSEZ challenged its exclusion from the tender in the Gujarat High Court. While issuing notices to the port authority on December 28, the court observed that “subject to the final outcome of the present writ application, the respondent (Deendayal Port) shall permit… (APSEZ) …to participate in the request for qualification (RFQ) stage of the tender process.”

The privatisation is part of the government’s National Monetisation Pipeline that seeks to divest operational infrastructure assets through the public-private-partnership route. The privatised berth will have capacity to handle 5.6 million tonnes of cargo and entails an investment of ₹300 crore.

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