Court pulls up Brahmaputra Literary Festival organizers on Publicity Scam

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Court pulls up Brahmaputra Literary Festival organizers on Publicity Scam

G Plus News | February 11, 2019 12:36 hrs

GUWAHATI: Gauhati High Court finds fault in the tender allotment process for publicity of 3rd Brahmaputra Literary Festival; asks organizers to improve the process and seeks proof of hoardings & kiosks installed for the festival.

G Plus had reported that the 3rd Brahmaputra Literary Festival (BLF) 2019 is involved in a scam as the outdoor publicity work was awarded this year to an advertising agency called Gyanam which quoted higher than the L-1 (lowest bidder). Now the Gauhati High Court (GHC) has also found faults in the tendering process after a writ petition was filed before the court by the L1 agency. 

“Court is not satisfied on two counts,” the court ruled. Firstly, the court was not satisfied with the last minute tendering and branding of the festival as the tender was floated by the Secretary of Assam Publication Board on 17th January 2019 and the work was allotted on 31st January 2019. The literary festival started on 9th February 2019. Therefore, the court questioned the process as in this short period it is difficult to comprehend the impact of the branding and publicity. 

Secondly, the minutes of meeting of the tender committee held on 30 January 2019 reveals that L1 bidder (the lowest bidder) was rejected by the organisers on the ground that it had provided hoarding sites in 10 districts of Assam without covering the districts of northern Assam. On the other hand, the agency (Gyanam) which was awarded the publicity work offered hoardings in 15 districts including the districts of northern Assam. “This cannot be a reasonable ground not to accept the tender of L1 (lowest bidder),” the court ruled as there are 33 districts in Assam and if the criteria adopted by the tendering committee is accepted then Gyanam (L2), which quoted more than L1, could not have been selected and awarded the contract. 

As the festival has already started the court did not intervene as its intervention can jeopardize the festival. 

The outdoor publicity budget was Rs 27 lakhs for the festival this year and Outreach Advertising, which is L1 amidst a set of 5 technically competent bidders, quoted only Rs 18 lakhs. But the work has been awarded to Gyanam which quoted Rs 19.23 lakhs. 

After Gauhati High Court’s ruling the secretary Pramod Kalita avoided making comments on the issue on the pretence of being busy.

Brahmaputra Literary Festival (BLF) is revolving around allegations of anomalies since the last 2 years after Pramod Kalita had taken charge as the Secretary, Assam Publication Board. 

Even last year the lowest bidder (L-1) was Aahana Ads and Outdoors which quoted Rs 29 lakhs, and the second lowest bidder (L-2) was Media Unlimited which quoted Rs 30.40 lakhs, but the tender was awarded to Media Unlimited.

Meanwhile the Gauhati High Court has asked the organizers to file an affidavit by the next hearing date (21 February 2019) with the proof of installation of hoardings and kiosks at the different locations as per the tender. The court also asked for a response from the festival organizers to adopt a system so that similar situations can be avoided in the future.

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