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Bhubaneswar IIT chief returns a favour

New Delhi, Feb. 15: An IIT director under the scanner has recommended that another indicted by the CBI be re-appointed head of the tech school, possibly to return an old favour.

IIT Bhubaneswar director Madhusudan Chakraborty has suggested that IIT Kharagpur director Damodar Acharya be given a second term, sources said. Acharya had recommended Chakraborty’s name for IIT Bhubaneswar director.

Chakraborty’s role in the illegal purchase of equipment worth Rs 2.5 crore is being probed. Acharya has been indicted for irregularities committed during his tenure as All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) chairperson.

The HRD ministry recently put out an advertisement seeking applications for the post of IIT Kharagpur director. It also requested all IIT directors to recommend eminent persons who could fit the bill.

Acharya, who served as AICTE chairperson from May 2005 to June 2007, had overruled an expert committee report and granted extension of approval to Padmavathi Engineering College despite its lack of faculty strength.

The CBI probed the matter and recommended regular departmental action for major penalty against Acharya. The HRD ministry has asked Acharya to show cause why action should not be initiated against him.

Regular departmental action means a chargesheet will be issued and an inquiry committee set up to suggest appropriate action against the person. Such action could either lead to suspension or removal of the person from his post.

Of late, IIT Kharagpur has been in the news for the wrong reasons. The CBI is probing the role of school officials in allowing the running of a fake institute on the Kharagpur campus. There are allegations that in the last 20 years the school appointed many assistant registrars who did not fulfil minimum eligibility criteria.

IIT Bhubaneswar director Chakraborty has been indicted by the CBI in a separate case of financial irregularity. The HRD ministry is likely to frame charges against him soon.

On November 10, 2010, the CBI conducted a surprise check at IIT Bhubaneswar on information that the institute had bought equipment worth Rs 2.5 crore from a single source bypassing the tender-based bidding process. It submitted a report to the HRD ministry last June.

The school purchased items like continuous surface wave system used for soil-testing, ground-penetrating radar sensor, shake tables used for seismic research, pile-testing equipment, non-destructing testing equipment, material-testing equipment and cyclic tri-axial testing machine. All these were bought from a single agent M/S AIMIL without following a tender process, the CBI said.

According to the government’s general financial rules, an institute will have to advertise open tenders in newspapers to procure items worth over Rs 25 lakh. In case of a proprietary article an item manufactured by a particular farm the institute can buy it from a single source without following a tender procedure. But the institute will have to get a certificate from the principal company to that effect.

After scrutiny of the documents, the CBI found that no open or limited tender was invited for purchase of the items. The school described the items as of proprietary 45454545 nature, implying that tendering was not required.

But the CBI did not find proprietary article certificates for the items. Nor was there any approval from the director to send the tender enquiry to the supplier, sources said.