CVC unearths new landphone scam in BSNL?

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is investigating an alleged scam in the procurement of wireless land-phones, known as FWTs or fixed wireless terminals, by BSNL.

In reply to a question by member of Parliament P Lingam and others, the ministry of communications and IT said that the CBI started the investigations on the basis of a probe by the CVC.

The CVC, or the chief vigilance commissioner, is the top anti-corruption body within the government and conducts initial investigations into allegations of scams and corruption.

“CVC has examined the case of purchase of WLL/CDMA integrated Fixed Wireless Terminals by BSNL and referred the matter to CBI for investigation,” Milind Deora, the junior minister for IT and communications said in a reply.

However, Deora did not answer the question about the size of the alleged scam. The members of Parliament had asked if the CVC had estimated the loss due to the alleged scam at “several hundred crores” of rupees.

Separately, the CBI is also investigating allegations that BSNL did not conduct a fair selection of partners for rolling out its Wimax services in most of the states in the country.

It registered an police complaint last month alleging that officials at the BSNL have caused a loss of Rs 535.50 Crores through irregularities in award of Wimax franchisees in 16 states in 2009.

It alleged that minimum stipulations mentioned in the tender were changed by BSNL officials to suit some participants in the tender process.

BSNL used to be the largest and most lucrative telecom operator in India. However, in the past four to five years, its financial condition has deteriorated rapidly as it has been unable to provide services similar in quality to those of its private competitors.