Former Mysore University Professor Dr. P.V. Nanjaraj Urs has lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta at Bangalore, accusing former Palace Board Dy. Director P.V. Avaradi of causing huge losses to the Palace Board by entering into a lopsided agreement with Delhi based M/s Narrow Casters India Pvt. Ltd., for providing Audio Guide Devices - HARK (Handy Audio Research Kit) to visitors, both domestic and foreign. The objective of the scheme was to benefit the tourists with a lot of information on the glorious history of the city Palace. But Prof. Nanjaraj Urs has alleged huge irregularities in providing this service.

According to Prof. Nanjaraj Urs, the former Palace Board Dy. Director P.V. Avaradi has colluded with M/s Narro Casters India Pvt. Ltd., while awarding contract for HARK, which has resulted in a loss of Rs. 2.94 crore from Nov. 2008 to Mar. 2013.

The violation of norms began with the invitation of tenders to supply the devices, as instead of inviting a Technical expertise tender for supplying such devices, a civil tender was invited, he alleged. Continuing, Prof. Urs said according to the terms and conditions of the original tender, the Palace Board did not have to bear the expenses for the HARK device software.

However, this term was violated by the company as Avaradi included these expenses in an additional tender, which cost the Palace Board Rs. 30 lakh. M/s Narrow Casters was also the only company to respond for the tender to supply HARKs. While regulations instruct officials to call for another tender in case of response by only one company, this regulation too was violated, he alleged.

Further after payment of the tender amount to the company, “The rights to the scripts and recordings shall be owned by the Mysore Palace Board” for the term of the contract or till any further contract renewals, as per Section 10C of the additional tender notification. But, this clause was amended to offer joint ownership of the same to the Palace 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 foreign visitors of Mysore Palace, while it is optional for domestic visitors. While Rs. 100 is the Palace entry ticket fee for foreigners, HARK is charged Rs. 100.

When details about the same were sought under the Right to Information Act, the Board responded by stating that it was part of the agreement, Prof. Urs has stated in his complaint.

Moreover, the Board does not have the right to update software in HARK devices till the contract term expires in 2018. While the responsibility of HARK maintenance lies with the company, no arrangements for the same has been made. As such, the Board is forced to repair and maintain these devices and hear expenses, because of the collusion between Avaradi and the Company, he alleged. Hence, Avaradi should be held directly responsible for the scam, he urged.

Prof. Urs alleged that Avaradi, after his retirement, was appointed as the South India Regional Head of M/s Narrow Casters India Pvt. Ltd., on Mar. 1, 2012, which is in violation of Karnataka Civil services Act.

Loss at a glance

Number of foreigners visiting Palace between Nov. 2008 and Mar. 2013- 3,37,847.

Fee collected for using HARK- Rs. 3,37,48,700.

Total share of the contractor Company- Rs. 2,69,98,960.

Number of domestic tourists who used the kit- 32,524.

Fee collected- Rs. 32,52,400

Total contract Company share- Rs. 2,94,38,260 (which is loss to the Palace Board).

Courtesy : Star Of Mysore