New Delhi, Beijing bid for MRP

In a twist to
Nepal’s desire to acquire Machine Readable Passports (MRPs), India and China have recently picked up tender copies for MRP bids at a cost of Rs 10,000 each.
A Beijing-based security printing firm recently picked up the bid document. However, it is not known whether it was a government undertaking or a private company.

Meanwhile, sources said that the Government of India undertaking, Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India (SPMCI), picked the tender copy. This company was awarded the MRP contract by the incumbent government on March 19, but it was later scrapped on April 11 following directives from Public Accounts Committee and pressure from leaders of ruling and opposition parties. Besides the cost factor, the deal landed in controversy after a confidential letter written on Dec. 4, 2009 by Indian envoy Rakesh Sood to Foreign Affairs Minister Sujata Koirala was “leaked”.

In the letter, Sood had raised India’s security concerns and defended its interest in printing the MRPs.  In its deal with the Indian company, the government had agreed to buy MRP copies at a high rate ($4 per copy) ignoring cheaper offers as low as $2.9 per. A fresh bid was floated on May 18.

Companies from Canada, Malaysia and Indonesia have also picked up the tender copies. No Indian and Chinese companies took part in the earlier pre-qualification bid, which was quashed later.

Two Chinese private companies at that time had expressed interest and forwarded applications to the Foreign Ministry.

The Foreign Ministry came up with a new tender on May 18, open to all interested firms with a more “relaxed format”. The new tender paper has not barred any country from taking part in the process. “The tender is open to international security printing companies of all countries,” it reads.

“Among the India and China, other eight government and private firms have already picked the MRPs tender copies,” said sources.


Early 2009    : Govt asks MoFA to start bidding

Dec. 1, 2009    : Global bidding begins

Dec. 4, 2009    : Indian envoy writes to MoFA

Jan. 14, 2010    : Bid off for technical reasons

Jan. 16    : Indian Foreign Minister arrives

March 23    : Govt signs deal with SPMCIL

Feb. 25    : PAC orders bid resumption

March 19    : Govt gives contract to India

April 7    : SC issues stay order on deal

April 11    : Govt withdraws the deal

(Originally published at

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