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Jindal Steel & Power Ltd set to win ₹2,400-crore Paradip Port tender

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MUMBAI : JSPL beat Essar Ports Ltd and Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd to emerge the highest bidder. Naveen Jindal-led Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) has emerged the highest bidder on a tender floated by State-owned Paradip Port Authority to build a 25-million tonne (mt) capacity, deep draft, dry bulk cargo terminal at the Western Dock of the port located in Odisha with an investment of ₹2,392.13 crore.

In a surprising development, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) – which is fighting in multiple courts including Odisha High Court to reverse its disqualification from port tenders – did not place a price quotation when the bids were opened on Monday, government sources said. JSPL beat Essar Ports Ltd and Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd to emerge the highest bidder.

Paradip Port Authority disqualified APSEZ from the tender on March 10. This move came a week after a single-judge Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court upheld the decision by Visakhapatnam Port Authority, also State-owned, to exclude APSEZ from a tender for mechanisation of West Quay Berths 7 and 8 at the port in Vizag citing termination of a coal terminal run by India’s biggest private port operator there.

Tenders issued by State-owned ports stipulate that an applicant will be disqualified if a public entity had terminated any of its contract for breach of terms.

APSEZ in legal tussle

APSEZ has appealed against the March 3 order of the single Bench of AP high court before a division Bench and the case is yet to be settled. India’s biggest private port operator had also filed a petition in the Odisha High Court seeking to reverse its exclusion from the Paradip Port tender.

“The Odisha High Court asked Paradip Port Authority to accept the price bid of APSEZ. And, if APSEZ emerged the highest bidder, the award of the contract would be subject to the order of the division bench of the AP High Court,” a government source in Delhi said.

If APSEZ loses the case in the AP High Court, then its highest bid will be declared null and void and the second highest bidder would be declared the winner, the Odisha High Court said in its order.

“After the Odisha High Court order, Paradip Port Authority asked APSEZ to submit its price bid. What can the port authority do if someone doesn’t put a price quotation,” the government source said.

This will be JSPL’s first big contract in the ports sector, a business it has been looking to enter for some years now, including buying the Gopalpur Port in Odisha which was eventually acquired by Shapoorji Pallonji Group. Naveen Jindal’s brother Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Infrastructure Ltd is one of India’s biggest port operators.

JSW Infrastructure had also applied on the Western Dock tender but could not qualify.

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