HRD Ministry does not extend NBT warehousing contract, defends decision before PMO

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New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) A row has erupted over HRD Ministry’s refusal to extend contract of a firm tasked with managing warehouse of the National Book Trust (NBT), with the company complaning to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ministry defending its decision before the PMO.

Sources said that the company in its letter to the prime minister has alleged that the ministry did not have powers to “interfere” in NBT’s arrangements with third parties.

They added that the ministry after refusing to extend the contract had asked NBT to manage the warehouse with adequate safeguards and monitoring mechanism.

The sources said that the Board of Trustees of the NBT had decided in 2012 to outsource operations of the central warehouse at Vasant Kunj. They said that the decision was taken to counter the “perennial problems of financial irregularities and lack of accountability.”

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They added that an open tender was floated and Globus Logisys Pvt Ltd was awarded the contract.

The sources said it was agreed in writing by the NBT that initial period of the contract would of three years and later the contract could be renewed for another two years. The three-year contract period ended on March 31 this year.

The company, in its letter to Modi, said that it had opted to exercise its contractual right to seek the extension of the contract for two years as it had “not yet recovered investments.”

“However, even though the NBT is contractually obligated to extend our contract we have been informed by the Director NBT that the competent authority of the MHRD has directed the NBT to not to renew the contract,” the company said in its letter written on April 26.

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The company further said it had not been offered any explanation by the NBT about the reason and circumstances which led to the issue of the extension of its contract being escalated to the MHRD.

The HRD ministry was asked about the complaint of the company to the PMO and it responded earlier this week, saying the issue of managing warehouse was referred to it by NBT and was “examined based on the facts of the case, comments or clarification of NBT”.

The ministry also said that it had given reply to the communication on the issue received from PMO.

IANS sought to get comments of the NBT chairman but he declined to comment.

NBT is an apex body etablished by government in 1957. Its objectives include production and encouraging good literature in English, Hindi and other Indian Languages and to make such literature available at moderate prices to people.

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