Govt issued new order to let Zonta-led consortium to bid for Kozhikode project

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Thiruvananthapuram: More proof indicating waste management firm Zonta Infratech was favoured by the Kerala Government overlooking others for waste-to-energy plants in cities has come out. Documents reveal the Left Democratic Front Government revised an order fixing the conditions for companies bidding for waste-to-energy project apparently to favour Zonta Infratech.

The terms were revised by giving concessions to entities that take part in the tender as a consortium and also accepting experience of carrying out the work abroad as a qualifying condition. It was only after the contractual conditions became favourable that the consortium that included Zonta took part in the retendering process and won the contract for the waste plant in Kozhikode.

New order after five months

The new order was issued on November 22, 2018, after making amendments in the order issued by the Local Self- Government Department on June 6, 2018. Zonta Infratech, which did not take part in the tender that was floated on the basis of the first order, formed the consortium by joining hands with two overseas partners and took part in the retender after the order was amended. No others took part in the retender. This gives rise to the suspicion that there was a move to favour the company.

The second order states that the changes were made since no one had taken part in the first tender. The order also states that an advisory committee headed by the Chief Secretary had recommended the changes after taking into account the opinion of companies that were interested in taking part in the tender. Tom Jose was the then Chief Secretary.

As reported earlier Bengaluru-based Zonta Infratech is under scrutiny over the political links of its promoters. It was engaged by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) for garbage clearance in Kannur Corporation limits too by violating norms.

An assessment of the contractual agreement for Kannur project suggest that it was drafted by incorporting terms that helped the interests of the firm. Earlier it was alleged that the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office lobbied with the Kannur Municipal Corporation authorities to sign-up Zonta Infratech.

The conditions in the contract for disposing of the garbage (legacy waste) through biomining was also allegedly diluted by the KSIDC, Manorama had reported earlier. One of its promoters of Zonta Infratech is a family member of the former Left Democratic Front (LDF) convener Vaikom Viswan.

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