The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday night registered a corruption case against four scientists on charges of indulging in irregularities in the establishment of the Electronics Design Centre (EDC), a project developed under the Society for Applied Electronics Engineering and Research (SAMEER), Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
Sources in the agency said that S. Karunakaran and K.R Kini, former Directors of SAMEER, Chennai and Mumbai; K. Sridhar, Project Director of EDC, Chennai; and Madhavan Swaminathan, the then Deputy Director, Packaging Research Centre, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States, were named accused and booked under Section 120 (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) of IPC and 13 (1) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
The allegation is that they conspired, got approval from the Centre and took up the EDC project in association with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, US.
The purpose of the EDC project was mainly to reduce the volume/weight of certain electronics components by using the Rogers Experimental Material (RxP) substrate concept and to develop a technology for miniaturisation of complicated circuits based on System on Packaging (SoP) for mobile phones of smaller size.
While SAMEER funded about Rs.8 crore, the remaining Rs.15 crore was availed as grant from the Department of Information Technology. The total cost of the project was around Rs.23 crore. The project was not completed within the stipulated time (August 2009).
“Even after years, no work was done in the EDC. About 13 scientists went abroad spending Rs.38.36 lakh, but nothing concrete came out of the tours in terms of taking the project ahead. It was a clear abuse of official position and causing wrongful loss to the government,” a CBI official said.
Teams of the Anti-Corruption Branch conducted searches on the premises of the accused and seized documents. Preliminary enquiries revealed that the EDC was built without the approval of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, he said.
Karunakaran and Kini were arrested by the CBI on March 20 this year on charges of irregularities that allegedly caused a huge loss to the exchequer and delayed the mass production of ‘Akash,' the surface-to-air missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).