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 Up loaded on Tuesday August 24, 2010

   To hire or to buy? DD faces dilemma



         Mundane furniture like chairs, dustbins and wall clocks got the public broadcaster, Doordarshan (DD), tied in knots whether to hire or buy the stuff. Finally, it took a rap on the knuckles by the finance wing of the Prasar Bharati to end the four-month impasse.

       The bone of contention is a contract upwards of Rs 1 crore to provide customised furniture that was given by DD to BECIL, a public sector undertaking. Initially, DD had decided to hire the furniture. But, estimates furnished by BECIL showed that the cost of hiring a storage cabinet was Rs 12,500 while purchasing it would have cost Rs 9,800. Pleading paucity of time and lack of "usage", DD felt that the furniture should be hired. But after objections from the finance wing, there was a sudden change of heart.

       A K Jain of Prasar Bharati (finance) wrote a note on August 6, pointing out out that despite objections contract had been awarded without inviting an open tender and even though a decision had been taken by the Host Broadcaster Monitoring Committee (HBMC) in its May 7 meeting to hire furniture, it had not been implemented for reasons best known to the authorities.

     "The file shuttled from one desk to another for all this time for no acceptable reason. The delay seeks to defeat the decision of the HBMC taken after considering the cost benefit aspects of a "buy" or "hire" decision,specifically rejecting the option of procurement of the items proposed to be hired at unreasonably high rates," the note said. It was a case of delaying decisions in the first place, and then further delaying the implementation of the decision on unacceptable grounds, it added. Jain refused to comment on the note.

       In her defence, Doordarshan director general Aruna Sharma admitted that there had been some delay in the procurment process. "There were some delays. But we have now decided to purchase the furniture. It is made to size and will be delivered in time to furnish the presentation studios and broadcast compounds," she explained. BECIL had been awarded a turnkey project of Rs 19.8 crore that included building 17 broadcast compounds, four presentation studios and furnishing them.

       The 21 venues include four studios of 50 sq m each at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (for athletics), Major Dhyanchand Stadium for hockey, R K Khanna Stadium (for tennis) and S P M Swimming Complex for aquatics. Other venues that will be furnished by BECIL are the 17 broadcast compounds ranging between 500 sq m and 900 sq m that will be located outside the stadiums, and will act as on-site production centres for all rights holding broadcasters.

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