Andhra orders probe into Israeli irrigation technology project

February 24th, 2009 - 10:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Feb 24 (IANS) The Andhra Pradesh government Tuesday ordered the crime branch to probe an alleged corruption case of the former Chandrababu Naidu government - use of Israeli irrigation technology for irrigation in Kuppam area of the state.
Kuppam is the assembly constituency of Naidu, who heads the Telegu Desam Party.

The state cabinet, which met here Tuesday, accepted the report of the one-member judicial commission which went into Kuppam project, and decided to refer the case to crime branch of the crime investigation department for an in-depth inquiry.

T.H.B. Chalpati Rao, retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, probed the alleged irregularities in the selection of an Israeli company BHC Agro India Private Ltd, as consultant for taking up an agriculture project.

The commission was set up on Sep 19, 1995, and it submitted its report on April 19, 2007. But the government of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy took almost two years to decide on the follow-up action on the report.

The commission recommended prosecution of some officials of the private company and the state government for misappropriation of funds. It also recommended departmental action against a senior bureaucrat, S. Balasubramanyam, who was in charge of the Kuppam project.

Under the project launched in 1995, cooperative farming was promoted by bringing 200 acres of land owned by several smaller farmers to create a big farm in Kuppam in drought-prone Chittoor district.

As per the MoU between the government of Andhra Pradesh and the Israeli company, the firm agreed to technology transfer for a fee of Rs 24.3 million.

The state government later extended the project to 2,000 acres of land.

Soon after coming to power in 2004, the Congress party fulfilled its election promise of ordering an inquiry into the project.

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