HARK scam hits Mysore Palace
Palace Board has lost about Rs three crore due to tender violations
Allegations of losses worth several crore rupees to the Mysore Palace Board have been levelled in a complaint lodged with Karnataka Lokayukta by historian Nanjaraj Urs, here on Saturday.
According to the complainant, former Deputy Director of Mysore Palace Board, P V Avaradi has colluded with Narrowcasters India Private Ltd, while awarding contracts for Handy Audio Research Kits (HARK), an audio kit for the benefit of tourists visiting the Palace premises, which has resulted in a loss of Rs 2.94 crore from November 2008 to March 2013.
Violation of norms began while inviting tenders to supply the devices. It was necessary to invite a Technical Expertise tender for supplying such devices. On the contrary, a civil tender was invited, the complainant said.
According to the terms and conditions of the original tender, the Palace Board did not have to bear the expenses for the software developed for HARK. However, this was later violated by the company as Avaradi included these expenses in an additional tender, which cost the Palace Board Rs 30 lakh.
Narrowcasters was also the only company to respond for the tender for HARKs. Regulations instruct officials to call for another tender in case there is a response for a project by only one company. This regulation was also allegedly violated.
Further, after payment of the tender amount to the company, according to section 10 C of the additional tender notification, “The rights to the scripts and recordings shall be owned by Mysore Palace Board...” for the term of the contract or till any future contract renewals. However, this clause was amended to offer joint ownership of the same to the Board and the Company.
“Despite buying the chip by paying Rs 29.90 lakh, the Palace Board has only joint ownership of the same,” Urs said. HARK is compulsory for visitors of Mysore Palace, who hail from foreign nations. While Rs 100 is the entrance ticket, Rs 100 is the fare for HARK.
“Of the Rs 100 collected as fare, Rs 80 is being paid to Narrowcasters.
When details about the same were sought under Right to Information Act, the Board responded by stating that it was part of the agreement,” he has said in the complaint.
Moreover, the Board does not have the right to update software in HARK devices, till the contract term is over in 2018. While maintenance of HARK must be done by the Company, no arrangements for the same has been made. The Board is forced to repair and maintain these devices and bear expenses because of the collusion between Avaradi and the Company.
“Due to this, when the tender term is over, the Company will have a profits of over Rs six crore. Avaradi and the former DC of Mysore, Manivannan should be held directly responsible for the scam,” the complainant has urged.
Urs also alleged that following Avaradi’s retirement, he was appointed as Regional Head of Narrowcasters India Pvt Ltd on March 1, 2012, which is in violation with Karnataka Civil Services Act.