Reliance Jio contract: Madhya Pradesh Accountant-General finds irregularities

Reliance Jio was granted a contract to provide wi-fi facility to the office of the Madhya Pradesh chief electoral officer.

Raising doubts over confidentiality of data, an audit report by the Accountant-General (AG) has found alleged irregularities in grant of contract to Reliance Jio to provide wi-fi facility to the office of the Madhya Pradesh chief electoral officer.

Reliance Jio was granted permission in November last year to provide wi-fi facility for better coverage and connectivity in the office, the report said.

During the audit, it was found that the permission from the head of the department was not taken while awarding contract to the private firm, it said.

The State election office is a Constitutional body. The confidentiality of data will be affected by granting permission to a private firm for giving data services, the report said, adding the matter has been brought to the notice of senior officers.

The findings of the audit, which was conducted during October 2017 and December 2018, has been shared with the chief electoral office seeking its reply, according to official documents.

Besides this, the AG, which acts as the distant arm of the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG), has found other alleged irregularities as well.

It pointed out irregular expenditure in purchase of voting compartments, makeshift structures used at polling booths to ensure safety of Electronic Voting Machines and provide secrecy to electors while casting votes, in Madhya Pradesh.

As per the instruction of the Election Commission of India, the voting compartments shall be made only of corrugated plastic sheet (flex board) of steel grey colour, which is opaque and reusable.

Lakhs of rupees have been spent in purchase of these voting compartments which were not as per the Election Commission’s specifications, the AG report said.

The findings have been brought to the notice of senior officials, it said.

The audit also found avoidable expenditure of ₹18 lakh in printing, in contravention of the existing norms of election material from a State government organisation.

The AG audit has pointed out alleged irregularities in use of over ₹50 lakh for purchase of training material ahead of State Assembly election last year.

All the districts in Madhya Pradesh were given ₹1 lakh each for augmenting training infrastructure. The audit found that utilisation certification was not received for this amount, the report said.

It also found alleged irregularities in purchase of mobile phones by the State election office.

“Involvement of private party in election activities and irregularities in purchasing of voting compartments are very serious issues. I will approach election commission to take necessary action in this regard,” said Ajay Dubey, an anti-corruption activist.

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