China might be rolling out the red carpet for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Beijing, but India seems to be in no mood to return the favour. The railways has disqualified Chinese companies in the fray for contracts of locomotive factories, refusing to relax the eligibility criteria for the Rs 3,500-crore project.
Two Chinese companies, CSR Corporation and CNR Corp, had applied for the Madhepura electric loco project (Rs 1,300 crore) and Marhowra diesel locomotive project (Rs 1,200 crore) of Indian Railways, which are to be come up through public-private partnership.
“The Chinese companies had written to us seeking relaxation in conditions of RFQ as they did not have requisite qualification for the project, but we have told them there won't be no relaxations as these conditions have Cabinet approval,” Railway Board chairman Arunendra Kumar said.
CSR Corp had asked Railway Board to relax the condition of experience of operations in three countries as it had experience of supplying locomotives to just two. “We would have considered their request if there was no response, but several multinational giants have applied for the project,” Kumar said.
During the current visit of the Indian PM to China, the two countries signed nine agreements, including on strengthening cooperation on trans-border rivers and in road sector. China has shown eagerness to invest in India's railway sector and is keen on fueling its high-speed railway network dream. However, the Railway Board has refused to extend the olive branch to Chinese companies that want to invest in the loco factory projects.
CSR, in a letter to the railway board, had complained about "unnecessary conditions" in the RFQ. “It is unfair on us to be prevented to participate in the project from the RFQ stage,” it said. The letter had criticised the railway board's condition that a company applying for the project should have worked in at least three countries in similar line of operations.
But the railway board had denied any bias, saying the condition was included to get the best of technology into India.