Tamil Nadu is perhaps the only state to give away free gold to economically poor women as part of marriage assistance schemes implemented by the Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department The Director of Social Welfare has issued tender recently, seeking prospective dealers to supply one lakh gold coins weighing four gm (each 22 carat) for 32 districts in the state.
Going by the tender, Kanyakumari, Madurai and Tiruchirappalli districts top the allocation at 5000 gold coins each, followed by Salem (4500) and Villupuram (4200). The tender has not disclosed the sum involved in this multi-crore transaction but has asked the bidders to deposit a refundable Earnest Money Deposit or ERD of Rs 1.20 crore, giving ample indications of the sum involved in this massive programme.
The government has laid down a series of stipulations including mandating the financial stability of the bidders, pegging them in the Rs 100-crore club. "The average annual turnover of the bidder/manufacturer/ Dealer shall be not less than Rs 100 crore per annum in the last successive two financial years," it stipulated, adding, the supplier should have the capacity to supply at least 25,000 coins with BIS hallmark standards.
Government has made it clear that it will carry out random checks of the gold coins to ascertain purity and warned of action in case of supply of sub-standard ones. "Coins may be selected at random and subjected to testing for their purity and weight in any approved testing laboratory, if the Director of Social Welfare deems it necessary..." the tender document said.
"..In case the quality is found to be deviating from the specifications, the supplier shall take back and replace the coins fulfilling the specifications at his cost or buy back the gold at a price paid for the gold or at the open market price (including the overhead charges) at the time of buy back whichever is higher," it said.
The 20 mm in diameter coins should be embossed with the state emblem (of the Srivilluputhur Temple tower), and on the other side, technical specifications like purity, weight and hall marking details must be mentioned, besides an assigned secret code. Sealed bids will be received till November 11 this year and opened the next day at the Directorate office here, it said.