323 tel lines busts Maran; demands 10 cr damages for IE rpt

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Dayanidhi Maran
Chennai, Jun 2: Dayanidhi Maran is a troubled man. With the recent revelations over the part he played in the 2G spectrum scam, more troubles seem to be on the anvil. A New Indian Express report that said Dayanidhi Maran operated a telephone exchange with 323 telephone lines in his home in Chennai has become the subject of discussion. The report has led Maran again going the legal way and has issued a notice to the Indian Express demanding Rs 10 crore in damages.

The newspaper report has claimed some interesting facts. According to the report published, the daylight prank was brought to light by the CBI who apparently unearthed the fraud way back in Sept 9, 2007 and intimated the matter to the Telecom Secretary. The telephone lines were apparently not under Maran"s name but in the name of Chief General Manager BSNL Chennai. The lines were used for the purpose of Maran"s family business and have caused huge losses to BSNL.

Maran in other words ran a virtual telephone exchange at his home in Chennai. How else could you explain 323 telephone lines at his home in Chennai, which is apparently not his work base as Union Minister of Textiles and Minister of Communications and IT prior to that?

The report elaborates on the modus operandi of the fraud and explains how the the 3.4 km long secret underground cables through public roads were exclusively dedicated to connect his Boat Club home to the SUN TV office at Anna Arivalayam in Anna Salai, Chennai. He is alleged to have illegally linked the 323 home lines to his brother Kalanidhi's SUN TV network. The first 23 of the lines were from '243722 11' to '24372301', while the next 300 lines had numbers from '24371500' to '24371799'.

In a systematic approach to dupe the system, the CBI found that the con has been operational since a couple of months starting Jan 2007 through an illegal cable connection from Maran"s Boat Club home, according to the report. The telephone lines were costly ISDN lines capable of “video conferencing, transmission of huge volume of digital data of audio and video," according to the CBI report that was mentioned in the newspaper report.

The CBI in its report that was published through the Indian Express article gave away the extent to which Maran bent the rules in his own favour and said that the exchange was "programmed in such a way that no one other than the authorised BSNL staff was aware of the existence of such an Exchange created for his [minister"s] exclusive use." He is also alleged to have misused the cabling system that ran through the heart of Chennai to facilitate connectivity from his residence to the Sun TV offices.

With yet another fraud emerging that holds the Maran stamp, the exact loss caused to the BSNL could be somewhere around Rs 440 crore, says the report. It was not just the Sun TV but his sister concern Dinakaran, too that has been presumably involved in the fraud. With no tangible action on the CBI report for close to 44 months, the emergence of this report at this point could prove fatal to the already dwindling DMK popularity.

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