Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh ChouhanIANS

The Shivraj-led government in Madhya Pradesh is staring at another scam just before the assembly election which is scheduled in December. The Economic Times reported that a mass-scale manipulation of the online procurement platform of the Madhya Pradesh government has been done to allegedly support a few private companies. The scam is known as "e-tender scam" suspected to have been going on silently for years but it was exposed in May this year only.

The Economic Times reported that the Madhya Pradesh Jal Nigam (MPJNL) was warned of the encrypted e-documents contents getting manipulated by backend players. There has been an alleged involvement of private companies as well as the top bureaucracy to modify these e-documents after the bid was opened in March. Additionally, there was another complaint on the same issue made by a major technology-cum- engineering construction company which is meant to have done an internal assessment after missing out on some tenders by a narrow margin.

Officials from MPJNL reached out to the nodal department which hosts the portal the Madhya Pradesh State Electronics Development Corporation (MPSEDC) to find out how the infrastructure which was claimed to be secured was breached.

MPSEDC managing director Manish Rastogi, being a computer science graduate, applied his working knowledge and conducted an internal inquiry. The move revealed that the bid process for multi-village rural water supply schemes in Rajgarh and Satna districts were doctored to make two Hyderabad-based and one Mumbai-based company the lowest bidders.

The inquiries further said that these companies managed to win the bids with the help of insiders and selected few bidders got unauthorised access of the systems and previewed the bid price so that they could pitch lower bids to clinch the deals. More than Rs 2,322 crore was the contract amount for the three projects.

Further investigations found out that similar insider rigging of e-bids was also carried across six other contracts of the public works department, water resources department, MP Road Development Corporation and project implementation unit.

Going further, the officer issued a show cause notice to the service providers Tata Consultancy Services and Antares System on June 6 for "noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the RFP" of the contract agreement with MPSEDC. The service providers did not deny that the cyber fraud was committed but they did not accept responsibilities.

The following development is more shocking as Rastogi was relieved of his additional charge of Principal Secretary Science and IT after his internal audit of the first three cases unearthed the "e-tender" scam which reflected the large-scale involvement of senior officials of the state government.