Congress Sniffs Scam in MeitY, Questions Removal of Ravi Shankar Prasad

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Congress Spokesperson noted that the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has been allotting projects to various private partners worth crores without issuing any tender

Congress, the opposition party in India, is suspecting that the removal of Ravi Shankar Prasad from the cabinet, could have links with fear of a controversy erupting in the upcoming Parliament session. The party citing a latest report from Comptroller & Auditor General of India also hinted towards a possible scam in the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY).

Indian National Congress hit out at the government and noted about “siphoning off money worth thousands of crores” from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). It is to be noted here that USOF is pooled by the private telecom operators of the country for enabling rural Indians to be effectively connected through a reliable telecommunications network.

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“From July 2019 to December 2020, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has given crores of rupees towards Common Services Centres (CSC) for maintenance and operation of optical fibre cables in the country. CAG says that this money came from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) is a pool of funds generated from the levy that is charged upon all the telecom operator,” noted Pawan Khera, sokesperson, Indian National Congress.

Khera added that the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has been allotting projects to various private partners worth crores without issuing any tender. The same as per him has been happening for over a year. He also questioned the CSC Choupal, the same is known as an e-governance initiative for the development of digital infrastructure in the villages.

“What is the connection of BJP leaders with the web of companies benefited through CSC-SPV by @GoI_MeitY? Did the BJP receive any donations from these companies? What action will the PM take to punish the guilty?,” read a tweet he posted.

It is worth mentioning here that as per the website of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), as of January 2021, the USOF had collected Rs 1,12,650 Crores, out of which, Rs 57,433 crores have been disbursed.

“Case in point is what happened in Bihar where the CSC-SPV submitted a proposal on September 13, 2020, to the Ministry of Electronics and IT offering to provide Fibre to the home (FTTH) and Wi-Fi connections to all villages in Bihar. The estimated cost of this project was 630 crores. But, USOF calls this mega project a pilot project,” he said.

He added, “On 19 September 2020, the Digital Communication Commission (DCC) approved the above proposal for Bihar and on 15 October, USOF issued a letter to CSC-SPV on nomination basis without a tender to start work.”

There, as per Kehra, are no evidences of a agreement being filed. An RTI with MeiTY, as he noted also proves that the company in question here is private.

“On 2nd November 2020, Ms Anshuli Arya, administrator of USOF has approved it. The file then went to the Secretary, Telecom through the Member (Finance) of Digital Communication Commission. We do not know the status of this,” Khera said.

He added, “The whole award of the USOF contracts smells of a scam.”

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