Hitting back at the BJP’s allegation of taking commissions for clearance of bills at Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (KEONICS), IT and BT minister Priyank Kharge on Thursday pointed at a scam estimated to be worth around Rs 474 crore at the state-run agency during BJP rule.
Initial findings of the audit carried out by the Office of the Accountant General have pointed to massive discrepancies in procurement made between 2018-19 to 2022-23, Kharge told a news conference Thursday.
Computer lab set-ups, smart class solutions, digital sound systems and other equipment procured at an inflated cost, payments made on fake delivery challans and fake third-party inspection reports and excess payments made to vendors are some of the irregularities highlighted in the report, he said.
“BJP ministers and MLAs and speakers are urging for my resignation. Maybe they do not understand that they are falling into the pit dug by them. They are demanding my resignation for their corruption,” the minister added.
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Kharge has come under attack from the BJP in recent days over allegations that dues were kept pending for contractors over payment of commissions. An association of contractors had staged a protest at the KEONICS office on November 4 against KEONICS Managing Director Sangappa over bill payments.
Procurement of goods at a higher rate without analysing the market rate resulted in a loss of Rs 47.76 crore to the government, Kharge said. “Equipment was procured at an inflated rate ranging from 38 per cent to 1,577 per cent,” the minister said. Citing the audit report, he said that an amplifier worth Rs 3,799 was procured for Rs 63,720, an all-in-one box projector worth Rs 28,000 was bought for Rs 4,42,000 and six CCTV cameras and monitors worth Rs 53,450 was procured for Rs 6,72,000.
During the past few years, payments to the tune of Rs 76.5 crore were made to contractors without third-party verification, Rs 71.5 crore was paid without obtaining photo proof and inspection report and Rs 9.98 crore was paid on forged third-party inspection reports, Kharge alleged.