Govt. seeks CBI probe into ‘irregularities’ in APSFL

Cabinet sub-panel finds ‘₹2,000 cr. siphoned off’ in contracts during five years

The Andhra Pradesh government has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to inquire into the alleged irregularities in the functioning of the AP State Fibernet Limited during the period from 2014 to 2019.

This follows the findings of the Cabinet Sub-Committee that ₹2,000 crore was allegedly siphoned off by way of awarding contracts for execution of various infrastructure works in the name of procurements etc.

The sub-committee constituted to probe the alleged irregularities has also submitted the findings before the High Court.

According to highly placed sources in the government, earlier, the committee had come out with findings allegedly linking former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and former IT Minister Nara Lokesh in the signing of an MoU between the Department of Telecommunications, Bharat Broadband Network Limited and the APSFL, Government of A.P., for implementing Bharathnet Phase-II at a cost of ₹907.94 crore by allegedly inflating the component cost.

The committee also nailed the role played by Vemuru Hari Krishna Prasad, the then technical adviser to the State government. The evidence gathered by it allegedly indicated that Mr. Hari Krishna, as a member of the committees which processed the tenders, had “illegally” facilitated the award of most of the high value tenders to M/s Tera Software and that he and his family members were allegedly closely associated with the sister concerns of M/s Tera Software.

‘Excess quote’

The panel, the sources said, found that without the required administrative approval either from the Government of Andhra Pradesh or from the Government of India, the project work of BBNL Phase-II costing ₹1,410.10 crore was allegedly awarded at an excess quote of 11.26% over the estimates in violation of tender procurement guidelines.

The sub-committee observed that the APSFL had shown disregard to the guidelines laid down by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, and awarded the tender for works valued at ₹329 crore in favour of M/s Tera Software Limited, for the laying of optical fibre network across the State.

Serious allegations were reportedly levelled against Tera Software Ltd. during the process of tender by some of the co-bidders, but they were ignored.

The sub-committee found that the work of Project Monitoring Agency (PMA) was awarded to Gemini Communications Ltd. without proper justification and by relaxing the tender conditions, violating certain norms and by cancelling the tender earlier awarded to Merax Technologies Private Limited, the sources said.

Set-top boxes

It also pointed out several irregularities in the procurement of set top boxes (CPE boxes) and empanelment of its suppliers and that the APSFL had split the procurement order and distributed it among the four bidders.

The panel, however, found that the APSFL had set aside the CPE Boxes supplied by all other bidders and had taken into consideration only those supplied by L-3 – Tera Software Limited – and thereby facilitated in siphoning of funds to the company, the sources said.

According to the sources, the sub-committee unearthed irregularities in awarding the O and M work of 13 districts to Tera Software Limited at ₹2.44 crore per month.

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