Delhi HC Notice To Centre, BBNL On ‘Scam’ In Contracts
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Centre, Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), and CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd on a petition that challenged the award of contracts to the private company (CSC) to install Wi-FI access points.
The public interest litigation filed by NGO Telecom Watchdog sought quashing of the award of contracts on nomination basis by the administrator of Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund, working under the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), to the private company.
The CSC was initially created as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for providing e-governance services under the PPP model.
As per the petition, CSC SPV in turn had incorporated its wholly-owned subsidiary company CSC WiFiChoupal Services India Pvt Ltd. “The modus operandi followed by them is as follows: USO Fund will award the contracts to CSC SPV on nomination basis; CSC will pass on all the contracts to CSC Choupal, which in turn will further pass on the contracts to various other private companies, without any tender,” it said.
Both the Ministry of Communications and MeitY have been issued the notice.
The petition claimed that the scam started in March 2017 with the first contract worth Rs 100 crore awarded for 5,000 Wi-Fi Access points (APs).
“It was followed by the second contract for 28,248 Wi-Fi APs worth over Rs 500 crore issued in February 2018. In July 2019, a third contract worth Rs 1,903.50 crore was awarded, which included O&M of infrastructure created under BharatNet Phase-1 for one year, First Line Maintenance (FLM) of Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) installed under BharatNet Phase-1 for one year, and Capex for creating two APs per GP in 90,000 remaining GPs under BharatNet Phase-1 for five years,” it said.
The plea claimed that attempts were made to award further contracts worth Rs 9,854 crore on nomination basis.
It said that BBNL had earlier floated four tenders. The estimated cost of the last all-in-one tender dated October 3, 2018 was Rs 9,401 crore. But all these tenders were withdrawn or cancelled on flimsy grounds after pressure from the Department of Telecommunications, the petition alleged.