Kerala

Bevco application runs into hurdles

Chennithala seeks probe against the deal

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala has accused the government of having rigged the bid for building the mobile phone application for purchasing liquor to favour an ‘inexperienced’ firm ‘politically linked’ to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)].

He said the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) and the IT Department were guilty of having stacked the decks in favour of the firm to appease their political masters. In the process, they had sidelined proficient public sector entities such as the C-DIT and National Informatics Centre (NIC).

They accorded undue pecuniary advantage to the neophyte company and should be subjected to an anti-corruption inquiry.

Major application vendors had not accepted the product because of inherent software glitches. The company's shoddy work had delayed the countdown to the launch of the application by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco).

Mr. Chennithala said the firm stood to make 50 paise for every order placed through the application. When the sale of legal alcohol commenced, the start-up is predicted to rake up a minimum of ₹3 crore in monthly profit.

The norms for selecting the company was opaque to the public. The tender floated by the KSUM was suspect. The agreement purportedly contained no penalty clause to hold the firm to account if its product failed.

The government had adopted the same surreptitious route to allow U.S.-based data analytics firm to harvest the personal health information of Keralites.

KSUM denies charges

Saji Gopinath, CEO, KSUM, told The Hindu that as many as 32 startups had participated in the tender. An expert committee shortlisted five firms for further vetting.

Another committee headed by the IT Secretary further examined the company selected to execute the contract. It found the proposed application's architecture robust and glitch-free.

Moreover, the Government of India had stated that previous experience or turn over criteria did not apply to contracts involving startup firms.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 12:57:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/bevco-application-runs-into-hurdles/article31659924.ece

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