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CID seeks Chandrababu Naidu’s custody in Andhra Pradesh Fibernet scam case

The CID on Tuesday filed a petition in the ACB court for a Prisoner Transit warrant, of TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu in another case related to an alleged scam in allotting tenders in AP State Fibernet Ltd (APSFL).

It appears the woes of the former chief minister and TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu are far from over. He is currently lodged in Rajamahendravaram Central Prison in judicial custody cooling his heels as the CID arrested him in an alleged multi-crore Skill Development Corporation scam.

Now, CID on Tuesday filed a petition in the ACB court for a Prisoner Transit warrant, of Naidu in another case related to an alleged scam in allotting tenders in AP State Fibernet Ltd (APSFL).

Following the directions from the state government, CID in July 2021 had registered a case into the alleged APSFL scam and launched the probe.

Under the fibre grid project, APSFL had created infrastructure to connect every household in the then thirteen districts of Andhra Pradesh, with optic fibre cable, to provide internet, telephone and cable TV at an affordable price.

In the first phase, which cost around Rs 320 crore, the government used electric poles to run the fibre optic cables. These fibre optic cables were to be connected to the substations from where the local cable operators and MSOs would connect every household.

Sources in the CID said that this 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.

Several irregularities took place from the allotting of tender till the completion of the total project causing huge losses to the government exchequer.

CID sources further said that owing to the use of substandard material, violation of conditions and non-adherence to the specifications mentioned in the RFP while executing the project, nearly 80 per cent of the capacity of the Optic Fibre Cable was rendered unusable. This is a permanent loss to the lifespan of AP Fibre net. The deviations committed at the time of execution of the AP Fibergrid Phase-I contract caused a loss of about Rs. 114 crore to the government exchequer.

“There would be further losses caused by expensive operation and maintenance works and loss of revenue owing to 80 per cent unusable optic fibre. The accused channelised the misappropriated funds through a web of companies belonging to their associates, using fake invoices,” said a senior official in the state government.

It was alleged that the Rs 320.88 crore AP fibre grid project was allocated to Hyderabad-based listed company Tera Software Limited, by Infrastructure Corporation of Andhra Pradesh Limited (INCAP). Tera software is suspected to be linked to one Vemuri Harikrishna Prasad who is said to be close to TDP bosses.

CID sleuths said that Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the then Chief Minister, was holding the portfolio of the Energy, infrastructure and Investment Department. He personally recommended getting the fibre net 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-Governance Authority, despite his criminal background. He gave approval for the estimates of the fibre net project without considering the fact that no market survey was done for the process of the items or the standards to be followed. Naidu brought pressure on the senior Government officials to include Vemuri Harikrishna Prasad in various tender evaluation committees, to revoke the blacklisting done by the Government, then prevailing against M/s Terasoftware, to finally award the tender to M/s Terasoftware by silencing the protests from other bidders such as M/s Pace Power. He also got the officers seeking a fair tender process transferred out unceremoniously and posted more pliable officers in their place,” observed the sources in the Andhra Pradesh government. Deccan Herald

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