Fibernet scam: AP CID name Naidu as prime accused in embezzlement case; file for PT warrant

Naidu got the officers seeking a fair tender process transferred unceremoniously and posted more pliable officers in their place.

By Sri Lakshmi Muttevi  Published on  19 Sep 2023 2:37 PM GMT
13 times: Naidu signed on AP Skill development budget docs, sans cabinet approval

Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Tuesday adjourned the bail petition of the former chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief, N Chandrababu Naidu to September 21.

Naidu has been in judicial custody as the main accused in the Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Corporation scam. He was sent to judicial custody on September 10 for 14 days.

The High Court reserved the final orders, and the judgement is expected to be given in two days. The TDP legal team filed an interim bail petition at the High Court.

However, on Tuesday, developments took place regarding another case. Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (AP CID) filed a PT warrant against Chandrababu Naidu as the prime accused in the Fibernet scam.

In this scam, the other accused are Vemuri Harikrishna Prasad, managing director of NET INDIA, Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad, the then member of the Governing Council, e-Governance Authority, Electronics & IT Agency and Innovation Society; and Koganti Sambasiva Rao, IRTS, formerly worked as VC&MD INCAP and MD APSFL, presently working as chief commercial manager, Passenger Marketing at South Central Railway in Secunderabad.

The CID report said that it is a case of manipulation of the tender process to allot the work order for Phase-1 of the AP Fibernet Project of Rs 330 crore to a favoured company, by flouting the rules and manipulating the tender process.

‘Naidu pushed for tender of blacklisted firm’

The ACB court has accepted the petition and will proceed with the hearing. According to the charges, the accused channelised misappropriated funds through a web of companies belonging to their associates using fake invoices.

A memo adding Chandrababu Naidu as the accused was submitted to the ACB court on September 19. A petition was also submitted to the court for a Prisoner Transit warrant, as he is currently under judicial custody in the Central Prison, Rajahmundry.

According to the report, N Chandrababu Naidu, the then Chief Minister of AP, was holding the portfolio of the Energy, Infrastructure and Investment Department. He personally recommended getting the Fibernet project executed by the Energy I&I Department, instead of the IT Department.

He personally got Vemuri Harikrishna Prasad appointed as a member of the Governing Council, e-Governance Authority despite his criminal background. “Naidu gave approval for the estimates of the Fibernet project without considering the fact that no market survey was done for the process of the items or the standards to be followed,” the report said.

It is alleged that Naidu brought pressure on senior government officials to include Vemuri Harikrishna Prasad in various tender evaluation committees to revoke the blacklisting against the firm Tera Software by the government. The intention was to award the tender to Tera Software by silencing the protests from other bidders such as Pace Power.

Naidu got the officers seeking a fair tender process transferred unceremoniously and posted more pliable officers in their place. The issue about the irregularities in the tender process and the conflict of interest between Harikrishna Prasad and Tera Software Pvt. Ltd. was pointed out to Naidu on the floor of the Legislative Assembly. However, he chose to deny the allegation and did not make any effort to rectify the issue.

80 per cent of fiber cable unusable

“Several irregularities took place during the allotment of tender till the completion of the total project causing huge loss to the government exchequer. Owing to the use of substandard material, violating the conditions and non-adherence to the specifications mentioned in RFP while executing the project, nearly 80 per cent of the optic fiber cable was rendered unusable,” the CID report said.

According to the CID, this is a permanent loss to the lifespan of the AP fibernet. The deviations committed at the time of execution of the AP Fibergrid Phase-I contract, caused a loss of about Rs 114 crores to the Govt Exchequer. There would be further losses caused by expensive operation and maintenance works and loss of revenue owing to 80 per cent of unusable optic fiber.

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