Government computer systems were allegedly tampered with by top officials in Uttar Pradesh to manipulate e-tenders of the state-owned UP State Warehousing Corporation (UPSWC) in a bid to oblige 'favourable' companies.
The e-tender racket, initially discovered at the corporation's Moradabad regional office, spread across the state, including to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency of Varanasi. It raised questions over the Yogi Adityanath government's claim of transparent governance.
In an attempt to salvage its reputation, the government subsequently launched a state-wide crackdown on corrupt officials and suspended Alok Singh, Managing Director of the UPSWC, and his close aide Sanjeev Kumar, a Regional Manager-level officer.
Over a dozen other officials are now under the scanner of a high-level committee, set up to inquire into the e-tenders racket.
On June 4, IANS had reported another scam emerging out of the state-owned warehouse in Kanpur where government officials forged receipts to siphon off funds for the purchase of seeds to the tune of Rs 16.56 crore.
Top sources in the state government revealed to IANS that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was seriously concerned about the unabated corruption in the state which has continued for over two decades. The Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party were in power in the state during that period.
"On instructions of Yogiji, a crackdown on government-owned corporations has been launched. Most of the scams in these corporations have their roots in the previous governments, primarily the one ruled by BSP supremo Mayawati," said a Secretary-level IAS officer.
Adityanath will soon take a tour of the state to review the law and order situation and make surprise visits to thanas (police stations), tehsils (revenue sub-divisions) and hospitals which, of late, have become dens of corruption.
The action against corrupt officials in the UPSWC is also part of the UP Chief Minister's drive against a large number of unscrupulous officials involved in skimming government schemes and projects. Sources said that in a departmental enquiry of UPSWC, it was found that officials tampered with the computer system to manipulate e-tenders. Among them were transportation and handling contracts.
"To favour certain parties, the terms and conditions of the contracts were changed after the bids were placed online. Besides, the officials at a later stage also changed the rates and fudged other data to favour certain players," a source revealed.
After a probe at Moradabad, similar manipulations were found in the Azamgarh and Varanasi region.
The UPSWC was established by the UP government in the late 1950s to help millions of farmers and government agencies in storage, sale and purchase of agricultural yields, seeds and farm equipment. At present, it has over 156 large warehouses located across the state.