Andhra Pradesh

Chandrababu Naidu mastermind behind fibernet scam: Andhra fibernet chief

VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh State Fibernet Limited (APSFL) chairman Punuru Gowtham Reddy has alleged that irregularities in awarding tenders and misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs 121.95 crore in the Rs 321-crore AP Fibernet phase-1 project were committed during the previous TDP regime. “Former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who was the mastermind behind the scam, had awarded the tender to the blacklisted company only to benefit his close aides,” Gowtham alleged.

Addressing the media on Monday, Gowtham Reddy said the CID team found that the prime accused, Vemuri Harikrishna Prasad (former member of the e-Governance Authority governing council), colluded with Tera Software Limited to ensure the tender for Rs 321 crore was illegally awarded to the company.

He wondered how a company, which lacked the necessary qualifications and was blacklisted for a year, was awarded the tender without necessary approvals either from higher officials or cabinet subcommittee when the project was worth more than Rs 300 crore. “Without verification, the previous government awarded the tender to Tera Software. CID officials are also investigating why the officials failed to verify its antecedents when complaints were lodged against the company,” he explained.

Reddy said 18 suspects and the role of some officials were identified in the alleged scam to the tune of Rs 122 crore in the AP Fibernet phase -1. “A case has been registered and notices were served on all the suspects to appear before the investigating officers,” he added. Gowtham Reddy alleged that the company inflated prices of items to the tune of around Rs 8 crore and supplied substantial material worth Rs 62 crore. Officials paid bills worth Rs 30 crore without substantial bills and documents related to works and approving designs against proposed plans causing another Rs 20 crore loss to the exchequer.

“To make way for Tera Software, some persons (TDP leaders) threatened and forced people, who lodged complaints against the company, to withdraw it. Fearing that they (complainants) would approach the High Court seeking a stay, the TDP government filed a caveat petition urging it not to disturb the process,” he observed.

“If the decision of lifting the ban on Tera Software was not approved by the cabinet committee or through proper channels, political leaders will also be called for questioning and punished according to law,” he warned.