After the Vyapam, another massive scam is staring at the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, just months ahead of the assembly elections in December. The alleged ₹3,000-crore scandal has been reported by Economic Times (E-tender scam looms large over Madhya Pradesh government).
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Madhya Pradesh police has estimated that the scam is worth ₹3,000 crore. Even though the internal inquiries have confirmed the corruption allegations, the government is yet to get an FIR registered against the accused persons.
The inquiries revealed that a selected few bidders got unauthorised access of the government’s online platforms and previewed the bid price so that they could pitch lower bids to clinch the deals.
The scam, according to the investigative report, involves large-scale manipulation of the online procurement platform of the Madhya Pradesh government to allegedly favour a select few private companies. “Suspected to have been going on for years now, it was exposed only in May this year,” the report stated.
The ET report revealed that the Madhya Pradesh Jal Nigam (MPJNL) sought the help of the nodal department which hosts the portal—the State Electronics Development Corporation (MPSEDC)–to ascertain how the secured infrastructure was compromised, after it was internally alerted on the encrypted e-document contents getting modified by backend players with connivance of private companies and the top bureaucracy following opening of the price bids for three of its contracts in March this year.
The report also indicates that six other contracts of the public works department, water resources department, MP Road Development Corporation and project implementation unit were also exposed to similar insider rigging of e-bids.
On receiving the showcause notice over noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the contract agreement with MPSEDC, the service providers including Tata Consultancy Services and Antares System, did not deny the cyber fraud. But they did not accept responsibilities as well, the report added.
Notably, MPSEDC managing director Manish Rastogi, a 1994 batch IAS officer, after his internal audit of the three cases, made it apparent that large scale manipulation took place on the e-procurement system. Rastogi was unceremoniously divested of his additional charge of Principal Secretary Science and IT.
Congress leader and MP Vidhan Sabha leader of opposition Ajay Singh, meanwhile, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 2, 2018, seeking a probe into the scam either by the Central Bureau of Investigation or under Supreme Court supervision. However, Singh maintained that he hasn’t received any response from the PM.