**New Delhi: ** In a major policy shift, bidding for parking, catering and parcel-leasing – worth about Rs 3,000 crore a year — will be awarded through an e-tendering process as the Indian Railways has decided to do away with paper-based traditional tendering methods.
Besides, the contracts for getting space at rail premises for ATMs, advertisements and other publicity-related matters will also go online to bring about transparency and checkmate unscrupulous elements in the tendering process.
“There were complaints against the prevailing bidding system as the scope of formation of cartels and illegal interference in the bidding procedure to bag parking, catering and other contracts was always there,” a senior Railway Ministry official told IANS.
Till now such contracts were being awarded through the paper-based traditional tendering system which was against the grain of the government’s “Digital India” mission.
All 17 railway zones and 70 divisions have been instructed to switch over to e-tendering mode for awarding these contracts, the official added.
Before deciding to go the whole hog, the Railways had undertaken a pilot project for parcel-leasing in the Delhi division and it was a successful venture.
Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), the Railways’ software arm, has been entrusted with the task of providing back-up support for ensuring the e-tendering exercise is a hassle-free process.
A permanent helpdesk has been provided by the national transporter to clarify the doubts of contractors and assist them with various aspects of the e-tendering process, including registration, online payments, bid submission, etc.
The e-tenders will be uploaded on the Indian Railways E-Procurement System (IREPS) and offers have to be submitted by the bidders online on the portal.
“Submission of manual offers against electronic tenders are not allowed, and any manual offers received shall be summarily rejected,” the official said.
To submit electronic offers, bidders have to get themselves registered on the IREPS portal. Registration on IREPS is an online process and no charges are levied for this.