Activism Entrepreneurship

Games they play

Every time I see an article on KMRL, it pains me how govt. organisations like Kochi Metro( KMRL) and Cochin Shipyard (CSL) get away with all kind of policy violation that is set out to support startups and MSMEs. The latest is this article in Hindu 

Right from the beginning this project had issues. Some of the stupidity that KMRL set out to do were corrected midway thanks to many people taking it up. Those who attended the initial pre-bid meeting would remember the claim made by their representative that steel boats are the way forward, take it or leave it. Fortunately that was amended and now we have aluminium. However the turnover criteria was gamed to ensure that only CSL bids for the project, the same shipyard that has zero experience in building electric boats. The bigger question is, should CSL be building boats that are meant for MSME yards? KMRL insisting on financial criteria when startup has technology is another violation of StartupIndia.

Along with this tender, a technology selection was done, since shipyards like CSL can offer only balance sheet and not technology. We were the only Indian firm that was qualified along with other foreign suppliers. The tender was set rolling.

As expected only CSL bid for this project. In its eagerness, like all govt. firms, to get the tender off their back and shift to the next govt. body, KMRL awarded the contract to CSL without a re-tender. It must be as per norms since both are supposed to be govt. controlled. 

Fast forward a few months. When it comes to CSL turn to tender out the propulsion system (remember they have no expertise and got the project on balance sheet criteria), they did a clever selection of technology. The original tender was open to various choices of Common AC/Common DC (read more here  while avoiding Independent DC (no idea why KMRL did that). CSL made a choice of Common DC. Interestingly it is the flavour of some of the large electric propulsion technology supplier. Conspiracy theory might have made me reveal, German too, but I resist! So the only Indian propulsion technology company that is qualified in original KMRL list is kept out by this selection. 

There are other games CSL plays. It somehow likes traders of foreign and not manufacturers who add value addition in India. Their payment terms and payment currency favour such traders compared to Indian manufacturer, a clear violation of MakeinIndia policy and MSME policy. Another violation of StartupIndia policy is seeking for financial criteria when startup has technology. For more details read this

Is Central govt. aware of the games played by their organisations? 


  1. Sandith, in my opinion, you should forward this to PMO. Let them know how govt companies are making efforts to move away from make in india motto.
    Ofcourse it is for their personal benefit!

  2. The very poor outcomes in the ship building and shipping space is reflected how little we have progressed in the kochi area due to this winner takes all attitude of CSL and we don’t care of CPT. CSL builds everything from air craft carriers to fishing boats. Any tender is suitably structured to favour CSL or is the favoured counter party for PSU buildings. I always take the examples of MISC in Johore which spawned 100’s of yards nearby and that of Singapore with 3 major yards having nearly a 1000 yards nurtured and built up with a sense of responsibility for the small yards and trying towards creating a ship building eco system. CSL did exactly the opposite and managed to kill the few yards exiting in Kochi. Same goes for CPT who feel that it is only they who need to survive and flourish and no responsibility toward creating a multi-layererd shipping cluster with a enabling approach toward the sector as the biggest entity with serious resources in accomplishing such an agenda.

    CPT and CSL have been huge disablers rather than enablers for our industry. All this talk of their great work in the sector is totally unfounded and does not suffer any kind of scrutiny. After 30 years of pushing the sector, putting serious money where my mouth us, engaging at various levels and forums I have reached a level of fatigue and financial losses which cannot be reversed or mitigated.

    There are serious imbedded issues at the core of shipping sector which i am not optimistic of being overcome at this time. there is not even a marginal increase in sustained cargo metric in spite of all the talk. i am pursuing businesses and initiatives where my ideas and insights find better traction.

  3. There should be a study on the fishing boats built by CSL. They built about 30 under a subsidy program. Most of the boats have performance and poor build quality issues and many are still laid up at csl s as owners are refusing to take delivery.
    Just because you build aircraft carrier does not qualify you to build fishing boats.

    What CSL achieved is to offer a very low price making it unviable for the smaller yards to compete. We planned to build some but gave up after building one as project is unviable at the price we are required to bid basis the lead provided by CSL. The outcome will be similar with the water metro boats

    The Vypin ferry is a good example. They made a very poor attempt to copy existing RoRo but failed with many operational aspects. Desk to design has limitations unless you are able to bring to the table some hands own experience even in ship design.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: