Andhra seeks CBI probe into Amaravati land deals, APSFL scam

 andhrapradesh | Written by : IANS Updated: Tue, Sep 15, 2020, 03:47 PM

Amaravati, Sep 15 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh's ruling party YSRCP has urged the Centre to order a CBI investigation into the alleged land scam in the Amaravati capital region and irregularities in the Andhra Pradesh State FiberNet Limited (APSFL) during the previous TDP regime.

The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), which had already made a request in this regard a couple of months ago, decided to once again raise the issue during the ongoing Parliament session.

The YSRCP alleged that the then Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government resorted to insider trading, benefiting Chandrababu Naidu, his family members and those close to them.

The party reiterated that the information about choosing Amaravati as the location for building the new state capital was leaked by those in power and they through their aides purchased land in and around Amaravati at throwaway prices.

The investigations conducted so far including by the Cabinet Sub-Committee revealed that before the announcement of Amaravati as the state capital, 4,069.94 acres of land was purchased in Krishna and Guntur districts by those involved in insider trading.

The YSRCP Parliamentary Party has decided to highlight the 'nepotism, manipulation, corruption and breaking the oath of secrecy by the people in high office who were privy to information leaking it to their close circles and the insider trading arising out of such malpractice.'

People in the know of cabinet decisions including cabinet ministers, legislators, party associates, and their benamis reaped undue benefits by buying land ahead of the actual announcement, it said.

According to YSRCP leaders, the beneficiaries included Chandrababu Naidu, his son and then cabinet minister Nara Lokesh, his close associate and NRI, Vemuri Ravi Kumar Prasad, then minister Paritala Sunita, Public Accounts Committee chairman and MLA Payyavula Keshav, former MLAs G V S Anjaneyulu and Dhulipalla Narendra, Kambampati Rammohan Rao and several other TDP leaders.

The benami transactions that took place in the land deals allegedly involved Ministers and TDP leaders. The boundaries of the capital area were redrawn to suit their favoured few to keep their landholding at an advantageous place.

The YSRCP also alleged that assigned and government land was grabbed and surrendered for land pooling to get the benefits announced by the government. Unwilling farmers were intimidated to acquire their land. The land pooling scheme rules also do not comply with the Land Acquisition Act.

The Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP also decided to highlight the irregularities in the AP State Fiber Net Limited (APSFL) involving then chief minister Chandababu Naidu, his son and Information Technology Minister Nara Lokesh and the then technical advisor to the government, Vemuri Hari Krishna Prasad.

The YSRCP government on July 13 extended consent to the CBI for a probe into APSFL irregularities and intimated the same to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Government of India.

The total amount involved is to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore. A large part of this amount was raised through loans and the rampant pilferage led to a severe financial strain on the government.

The tender was given to Tera Software owned by the family members of Hari Krishna Prasad and undue favours were doled out during 2014 and 2019. "There were grave irregularities at bidding level and undue favour was meted out to Tera Software by giving the maintenance contract at an exorbitant rate to the company," the ruling party said.

A Cabinet Sub-Committee (CSC), headed by Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath, has already conducted a probe into the land deals and the APSFL scam.

Based on the CSC's findings, the state government constituted a Special Investigation Team to investigate deeper into the alleged scandals.

The panel found that in the irregularities pertaining to APSFL, some of the files were routed through Chandrababu Naidu. Though the estimates were unjustified, excessive rates were quoted by the lowest bidder at a premium of 11.26 per cent, the then chief minister got the tender approved.

"Then Minister for Information Technology, Sri Nara Lokesh played a role in the signing of MoU between DoT, BBNL, Government of AP and APSFL for Bharatnet Phase-II at a cost of Rs 907.94 crore only, despite it being evident on file that there was a deviation from prescribed technology, the estimates did not follow any standardized fixation of cost of materials, many ingredients of the work were left out of the estimates incorporated for the MoU - thereby knowing pretty well that there is going to be a huge escalation of estimates without, there being any correlating financial sanction from the Central Government."

Vemuru Hari Krishna Prasad, the then technical advisor to the government, played a pivotal role. Evidence gathered by CSC indicated that Hari Krishna Prasad, as a member of the committees which processed the tenders, illegally facilitated the award of most of the high value tenders to Tera Software and that his family members and he himself were closely associated with the sister concerns of Tera Software, says the CSC report.