He claimed the entire credit for developing the HITECH city. He projected himself as the only Chief Minister who knows about Information Technology. Later he talked like the only Chief Minister who was Hitech. But a case of former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s hitech corruption has come to light and the Government of Andhra Pradesh constituted a Cabinet Sub-committee to make an inquiry. It subsequently asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a thorough investigation as Central funds were involved.
In the irregularities pertaining to APSFL, some of the files were routed through Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Though the estimates were themselves unjustified, excessive rates were quoted by the lowest bidder at a premium of 11.26% and Mr Naidu allegedly got the tender approved.
The then Minister for Information Technology Nara Lokesh also played a key role in the signing of MOU between DoT, BBNL, Government of AP and APSFL for Bharathnet Phase-II at a cost of Rs 907.94 Crores, despite it being evident on file that there were several irregularities.
It was clear that there were deviations from prescribed technology and the estimates did not follow any standardized fixation of cost of material. Many ingredients of the work were left out of the estimates incorporated for the MOU—though there was going to be a huge escalation of estimates that was bound to result in absence of financial sanction from the Central Government.
Technical advisor plays key role
Vemuru Hari Krisha Prasad, the then technical advisor to the Government, also allegedly played a crucial role in facilitating the agenda of Mr Naidu and Mr Lokesh. Evidence gathered by the Cabinet Sub Committee indicated that Mr Hari Krishna, as a member of the committees which processed the tenders, illegally facilitated the award of most of the high value tenders to M/s Tera Software and that his family members and himself were closely associated with the sister concerns of M/s Tera Software.
Recently, the Government of Andhra Pradesh issued GO Ms No: 77 dated 13.07.2020 extending consent to the CBI to make an inquiry, in accordance with the provisions of Sec.6 of Delhi Special Police establishment Act 1946 and intimated the same to the Government of India. This was with regard to the grave irregularities which took place in the APSFL (Andhra Pradesh State Fibernet Limited) during 2014-2019, in the erstwhile Government of Andhra Pradesh, pertaining to the award of Contracts in execution of various huge works of Infrastructure, siphoning off hundreds of Crores of rupees in the name of procurements etc, as brought out during the inquiry conducted by the Cabinet Sub-Committee.
Total amount involved is Rs 2,000 crore
The total amount involved in the above irregularities is to a tune of over Rs 2,000 Crores. A large part of this amount was raised through loans and the rampant pilferage led to a severe financial strain on the Government.
Major aspects of irregularities in the APSFL includes the following:
- Tender process was started even without the required Administrative approval neither from the Government of Andhra Pradesh nor from Government of India, by adopting a totally different technology, other than for which the project was aimed to, with unjustified and excessive estimates. Apart from this the work of BBNL Phase II, was awarded at a excess quote of 11.26% over the estimates in violation of tender procurement guidelines. The total cost of the project was Rs: 1,410 Crores.
- By showing utter disregard to the guidelines laid down by Chief Vigilance Commission, by surpassing some of the crucial tender conditions, by illegal and corrupt practices, the tenders were awarded in favor of M/s Tera Software Limited, in the matter of laying of optical fiber network, State wide. Serious allegations were leveled against M/sTera Software Ltd. during the process of tender, by some of the co-bidders. Without conducting any enquiry, the APSFL facilitated the said Tera Software Ltd. The value of the work was Rs 329 Crores.
- Without proper justification, by relaxing the tender conditions, violating certain norms, the work of Project Monitoring Agency (PMA) was awarded to M/s Gemini Communications Ltd, by cancelling the earlier awarded tender for the same work, in which M/s Merax Technologies Private Limited stood as L-1.
- In the matter of procurement of Set Top Boxes (CPE Boxes) and empanelment of its suppliers, the APSFL held negotiations with all the four bidders, against the norms. The procurement order was split and distributed among the four bidders. Again with an ulterior motive, the APSFL has set aside the CPE Boxes supplied by all other bidders, took in to consideration only those supplied by L-3 i.e. M/s Tera Software Limited. The APSFL has thereby facilitated in siphoning off of funds to M/s Tera Software Limited. Even to this day, M/s Dasan Networks a South Korean Multi-National Company suffers from the discrimination meted out by the management of APSFL which was under the undue influence of M/s Tera Software Ltd.
- The APSFL has given the Operation and Maintenance work of 13 districts to M/s Tera Software Limited., at Rs: 2,44,01,865/- Per Month, till the finalization of the tenders process for Project Maintenance. M/s Tera Software Limited which is having prior knowledge of maintenance cost since it executed 1st Phase work and was looking after the operation and maintenance work by the time of filing tenders, quoted the amounts with that experience and became L-1 bidder. APSFL, has given undue advantage to M/s Tera Software Limited.