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Did former TN chief secretary influence Rs 520 crore tender?

By Anusha Ravi

Prominent Chennai-based anti-corruption organisation Arappor Iyakkam has accused former chief secretary of Tamil Nadu Rama Mohan Rao of nepotism and misuse of office.

In a complaint to the anti-corruption department of the CBI in Chennai, the organisation has accused the controversial IAS officer of misusing his office to pressurise the government to award a tender worth Rs 520 crore to a company that his son is associated with.

Rama Mohan Rao

In their complaint letter to the CBI, activists from the organisation have alleged that the then chief secretary of Tamil Nadu misused his office to extend the deadline for submission of the bid to favour Padmavathi hospitality and facilities management services.

The said firm is alleged to be owned by Bhaskar Naidu who is an associate of Rama Mohan Rao's son, Vivek Papisetty. One of the attachments with the complaint shows how the last date for bid submission was extended one day before the deadline making way for Naidu's firm to make a submission.

What are the allegations on Rama Mohan Rao?

The complaint alleges that Rama Mohan Rao conspired with officials of Tamil Nadu Medical Supplies corporation to make the change from February 4 to February 16, 2016. It is also alleged that with absolutely no necessity, a corrigendum was issued and amendments were made to the eligibility criteria.

One of the main change that was made to pave way for the entry of the successful bidder was to change the type of firms that could participate in the bid. Instead of only Public/ Private Ltd, the amendment included Partnership and Propriety ship concerns as well to compete. This paved the way for the entry of the successful bidder Padmavathi Hospitality and Facility Management Services to become eligible for bidding.

Further, the 1 lakh floor space experience in any of the last five years was increased to 10 lakhs. The turnover of Rs 10 crore requirement in any of the last three years was increased to Rs 20 crores. The contract period from being two years was increased to three years with a clause that it could be extended to the fourth year as well based on mutual consent.

Complainants allege that all these criteria have been changed to favour one partnership company, Padmavathi Hospitality and Facility Management Services.

"The Tamil Nadu Tender Transparency rules 2000 mentions that a 1-month notice needs to be given for tenders of value above Rs 2 crores. However, as we can see in this tender, after amending the basic criteria of eligibility, the deadline has been extended only for 11 days. It was also found that one of the witnesses who signed in the above contract, P Srinivasa Rao is the brother of the former chief secretary Ram Mohan Rao, IAS. This further goes on to prove that this is a company run by Ram Mohan Rao's very close associates and relatives," said the complaint.

The organisation has compiled documents as evidence for their allegations had have asked for a case to be registered against Rama Mohan Rao and his associates. They have also sought probe into the role of Tamil Nadu's health secretary J Radhakrishnan and minister C Vijaya Bhaskaran in the tender process.

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