Whiff of foul play in Rs 21 crore bid for stone quarry

MADURAI: A stone quarry in Madurai fetched an extravagant bid of Rs 21 crore on Thursday, perhaps the highest bid in recent times, raising serious questions about the bidding process itself. It has been alleged that the bidding was a farce to hoodwink authorities and secure it for a very low price or an attempt to prevent the genuine bidder from buying the quarry. Due to the ban on leasing of granite quarries in Madurai district, stone quarries are regularly leased out. There are about 60 stone quarries in the district of which tenders were issued for 29. Since there is a stay on the auction of four of these quarries, 25 were put to auction on Thursday. The government had fixed a minimum amount for these quarries and as it was alleged that the amount was too high, 24 quarries were not auctioned for the third time in a row. Many of these quarries are money spinners and the government had hiked the base amount recently to ensure that it too benefited from the auctions.