Rs 100-cr e-tendering scam: Software companies helped BMC engineers?

BMC officials say the engineers involved in the scam could not have known the workings of the system used for online bidding, and must have been aided by experts from the software companies that designed and implemented it

The manipulation of the e-tendering system has raised questions on the involvement of the software companies that helped the BMC design and implement the system which is used for the online bidding process.

mid-day’s report on  September 17
mid-day’s report on  September 17

Put in place to reduce corruption, the system was supposed to be fool-proof, and BMC officials say engineers could not have used it to favour certain contractors without the help of IT experts from the software companies.

mid-day had reported on the issue on Wednesday (‘BMC engineers manipulated system’) and the report by the civic body’s Test Audit and Vigilance officer (TAVO) department states that the system would be shut down after certain contractors had put in their bids to prevent others from bidding.

A highly placed official said, “Without an IT expert, the engineers could not have cracked the system. Since the engineers do not know how the system works in detail, the IT experts may have helped them decide when the system would be active and showed them how to shut it down after their favoured contractors had submitted their bids.”

BMC officials also fear that the criminals’ footprint could be larger because the same SAP (System Application Products) is used for bidding in other departments, especially for roads. The officer said, “TAVO’s report mentions that the system was blocked immediately after the particular contractors completed the bidding procedure. This is a clear-cut violation of secrecy.”

“These SAP operators have committed a cyber crime, and the BMC should also lodge a complaint with the Cyber Cell, especially since the nexus between engineers, contractors and the software companies has caused a loss of crores to the corporation,” said opposition leader Devendra Amberkar.

Amberkar has also demanded that the inquiry team should include leader of the house Trishna Vishwasrao, as they fear that the administration will misguide people on the issue. MNS group leader Sandeep Deshpande has also demanded an inquiry from the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and the CBI.

“The BMC will involve thorough IT professionals to protect the system. Very few people from the IT department know the ins and outs of the system. We need to get efficient people and not trust only the few people running the system currently, as leaving all intellectual property rights in their hand is not a good thing for us,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Rajiv Jalota.

Inquiry on
The BMC is conducting an inquiry into the manipulation of the e-tendering system. TAVO had found that 21 engineers of the sub-engineer and executive engineer-level from nine wards were involved in this scam. Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Zone I) Vasant Prabhu is conducting the inquiry and he is supposed to submit a report within a month.

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