DMK entangles Govt in BharatNet project muddle
Tamil Nadu

DMK entangles Govt in BharatNet project muddle

S.Murari

Vigilant DMK, the main opposition in Tamil Nadu, has entangled the AIADMK Government in its Rs 1,800 crore BharatNet project of the Modi Government aimed at giving high-speed fibre optic internet connection in all villages by asking why a key official-in-charge was shunted out recently.

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy announced in November last year after signing a memorandum of understanding that the project would give last mile connectivity to some 12,000 villages through high-optic cable network. He also announced that cities would also be covered in the next 18 months at a cost of Rs 500 crore under the TamilNet.

When Leader of the Opposition M K Stalin raised a stink over the project and asked why the officer in-charge Santosh Babu was shunted to a sinecure post recently after which he threatened to early retirement. Revenue Minister R V Udayakumar dismissed Stalin’s charge as baseless and called the IAS officer’s transfer as routine. He also recalled how another IAS officer Umashankar was shunted out after he questioned the DMK Government’s attempt to subvert the Arasu Cable Network to benefit the DMK owned Sun TV Network.

If he had stopped it with that, the Minister might have got away with it. He went one step further and said there was no question of any irregularity in the project as tender was yet to be called.

Senior DMK functionary and former Revenue E Periyaswamy has now come with the new charge that online tender in four packages started in December last year itself and it was completed on Jan 20. He asked why the IT Secretary Santosh Babu was shunted to a sinecure post if there were no irregularities. He asked whether the Government was ready to face a CBI enquiry.

If it was a routine transfer, was the Government ready to make public file noting and discussions between the Minister and various officials on this project, he asked.

Meanwhile, Government on Wednesday announced the appointment of Santosh Babu as chairman and managing director of Tamil Nadu handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd. It has said Panchayat Raj Secretary Hans Raj Varma will now hold additional charge of Information Technology as Santosh Babu has been relieved from that position.

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