Max greed: Raja’s friend shows how to mint profit by J Gopikrishnan, The Daily Pioneer
Even as the dust is yet to settle on the 2G and 3G scandals allegedly involving A Raja, the Union Telecom Minister is embroiled in another controversy. This time, it is to do with the allotment of franchisees for BSNL’s recently-launched WiMax services to a company owned by one of the Minister’s close associates from Perambulur.Please also read these corruption cases related to Congress led UPA:
The company, Wellcom Communications India Pvt Ltd, has applied for licences to seven most revenue-generating of the 16 circles in India. According to sources, the revenue-sharing pattern agreed upon is 75 per cent to the private party and 25 per cent to BSNL. Sources said that if the company gets the nod for the 20 Mega Hz spectrum, it may sell off stakes to foreign players at huge profits, like in the 2G case.
They have questioned the need even for the appointment of franchisees when the BSNL can directly provide the service. WiMax technology provides wireless Internet and voice in future to laptops and mobile phones. The number of WiMax connections is expected to rise to 50,000 subscribers in the first year itself, leading to a target of 1 million subscribers in five years in each circle.
Wellcom Communications applied to be a franchisee in November 2008. The Chennai-based company, which was initially engaged in minor engineering and construction works, was formed in December 2006 with a Rs 10-lakh capital. This went up to Rs 10 crore in November 2008, apparently with an aim to enhancing the company’s credibility for the WiMax bid.
Wellcom Communications is represented by T Silvarajoo (55) with 15 per cent shares. The other two directors are Dato Vijayakumar Ratnavelu (47) and T Gunasegaran Thiagarajan, both Tamilians with a Malaysian citizenship. Dato Vijayakumar is also running a company with the same name in Malaysia.
Silvarajoo hails from Raja’s constituency Perambulur and is a close associate of the Minister. He is also associated with Dr C Krishnamoorthy, in whose building Raja had begun his legal practice in the constituency. Silvarajoo is currently a sub-contractor of CPWD’s road works. He supplies pellets from a quarry owned by Krishnamoorthy for the ongoing Chennai-Tiruchirappally National Highway (NH-45) project.
The Pioneer had earlier reported that Krishnamoorthy headed a real estate company, called Kovai Shelters, with Raja’s nephew and two nieces on its board of directors with 45 per cent shares.
Though the BSNL had invited franchisees a year ago, it postponed the bid several times allegedly due to pressure from the Minister who, sources said, kept adding names to the original list. Apparently under Raja’s pressure, BSNL chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal initiated the franchise-awarding procedures in mid-January. Despite repeated attempts by The Pioneer, the CMD refused to talk to this newspaper.
The Pioneer had earlier reported that the BSNL had entered into an unprecedented arrangement with the private party, Swan Telecom, for intra-circle roaming service without any financial benefit to the public sector unit. Though a BSNL expert committee had suggested a levy of 52 paise per call, it found no mention in the MoU signed with Swan.
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