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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

On Chinese Firm Winning Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Rapid Rail Project, An Asian Development Bank Angle

Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Corporation won the Rs 1,000-plus crore contract.

New Delhi:

A Chinese firm has won a contract for the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Rapid Rail Transit System Corridor — a first in the months since the stand-off between the two nations in Ladakh. Government sources said the project is funded by the Asian Development Bank, whose guidelines clearly mention that vendors from all member countries are eligible to participate in the bidding and there cannot be any discrimination.

Sources said Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Corporation won the Rs 1,000-plus crore contract as it was the lowest bidder and fulfilled all the criteria for the project, which is being looked after by the Urban Development and Housing Ministry.

The 5.6-km underground stretch of the RRTS Corridor project — which will connect the national capital with Meerut, through Ghaziabad — was awarded six months after a controversy over the Chinese firm emerging as the lowest bidder. Last year, right-wing group Swadeshi Jagran Manch had demanded that the firm should not be given the contract.

Since the stand-off at Ladakh peaked on June 15 last year, with the clash between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian soldiers died in action, there has been a backlash against China and its products by traders’ organisations and the civil society.

Later, the Centre tweaked rules to promote the Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign, which added to the odds for Chinese products and services in the country. The new rules said all foreign firms registering fresh products for sale in India will have to mention the “country of origin” in the Government e-Marketplace — a state-run online portal.

More than 50 apps with Chinese links that included the hugely popular TikTok, WeChat and UC Browser, were also blocked. The government attributed it to information that they were engaged in activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”

The government had also barred Chinese equipment for the 4G upgradation of the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. A Chinese firm given a Rs 471-crore railways contract was shown the door in view of “poor progress”.

The RRTS Delhi-Meerut project is a high-speed regional transit system that involves the construction of an 82 kilometer-stretch that will be covered in less than an hour by a high-speed rail. The project was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February last year.

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