Former CS challenges ‘Swiss Challenge’ mode for Amaravati

The construction of new capital, Amaravati, is once again in court. This is not the first time that the Amaravati plans of Chandrababu Naidu landing in the courts. There are several dozens of such cases pending against Amaravati and Naidu can find his way to handle these cases too, no case had caused him any inconvenience so far.

The latest is by I Y R Krishna Rao, a former chief secretary of the State government, who filed a case against Swiss Challenge method being followed by Chandrababu Naidu to build the new capital. Krishna Rao had filed the public interest litigation in the Hyderabad High court seeking its direction to stop the AP government from going ahead on the Swiss Challenge mode to build the capital city. He said that the Swiss Challenge mode would deprive potential agencies of competitive spirit and wanted the capital city to be built by the agencies in an open bidding.

The Swiss Challenge mode was adopted by the Chandrababu Naidu government where Singapore-based Ascendas-Singbridge-Semb Corp consortium had prepared the blue print as original proponent of the project. The Singapore company is not actually the original proponent and had never volunteered to execute the project, a condition in the Swiss Challenge. The Swiss Challenge mode comes with a company voluntarily coming forward with the details of a project and then bidding is invited based on this project. If the new bidders quote less than the original bidder, the work is assigned to the new bidder and the initial project preparatory charges are paid to the original bidder. However, in Amaravati case, the Singapore consortium did not volunteer the Amaravati project. It had done so on the request of the State government which had also provided a lot of information to the consortium before it was prepared. This total exercise took more than six months with the government and the consortium holding talks and working on the project preparation.

As the entire process did not follow the procedure of the Swiss Challenge, the former chief secretary had asked the court to quash it and direct the State government to go for open bidding. More over the Singapore consortium is not doing the total project work. It is giving just the layout for the capital, while the structural proposals are given by the UK-based architects Norman Foster and Partners.

Hence the former chief secretary said that the entire project and the procedure does not come under the set procedures of the Swiss Challenge and wanted the court to dismiss it. It is now to be seen how the court would handle the case and how Chandrababu Naidu would face it.

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