Home Top Story APCO scamsters trying cover UP

APCO scamsters trying cover UP

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The News Bureau

It appears the members of the powerful lobby that is responsible for the multi-crore financial scandal in the Andhra Pradesh State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society Limited (APCO) are trying to save their skin.

Even as the Telangana government is planning to order a thorough probe into the scandal by a specialised agency, APCO chairman M Hanumantha Rao hurriedly appointed a committee to probe the scandal. The funniest part of the internal pr

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be ordered by the APCO chairman is that the managing director Gouri Sankar, who himself is facing allegations of gross corruption, has been asked to head the committee.

An investigative report published in these columns has created ripples across the state and the culprits have been trying hard to cover up their misdeeds.

It may be recalled a group of people including APCO chairman M Hanumantha Rao, marketing officer of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, Varaprasad, procurement officer Prasada Reddy, Kadapa district weavers? society president Gujjala Srinu and some others have allegedly been siphoning off hundreds of rores denying livelihood for thousands of weavers working on handlooms.

It all began in the year 2010 when the school education department decided to procure school uniforms as part of Rajiv Vidya Mission?s (RVM) Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) from APCO.

Documents available with The News, which were secured under the Right to Information Act, clearly s

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show that the school uniforms, meant to be supplied for government and quasi government school students free of cost, must be procured from ?APCO only? so as to provide employment to the local weavers.

Documents available with The News also show that the government has issued instructions that APCO should exhaust the stock of material of local weavers first and shall also provide them work up to the time frame stipulated before the APCO procures any additional requirement either from any power looms within the state or outside.

However, Gujjala Srrinu formed a ring of corrupt officials in the APCO and bypassed the government orders to make quick bucks denying a living for the handloom weavers across the state. While the handloom weavers continued to commit suicides, Gujjala Srinu and his ring procured huge quantity of cloth from power looms and cloth making industries outside the state, sources said.

One of the key persons to who aided the massive scandal is said to be Varaprasad, working in the livery division of APCO and posted at its godown at Secunderabad. Varaprasad and another of his colleague Prasad Reddy were entrusted with the task of inspecting the cloth arrived at the godown and certify whether it was actually made by handloom weavers.

However, the duo in collusion with Gujjala Srinu allegedly issued false certificates while some other employees including the chairman Hanumantha Rao helped the kingpin in getting payments in the name of 20 weavers societies registered in Kadapa district, which are said to be the benami societies run by Gujjala Srinu.

Further, what comes as a shock is that the ring operated by Gujjala Srinu has been able to manage even the officials of Rajiv Vidya Mission and the school education department and got extended the deadlines to supply the cloth according to their convenience.

Separate letters written by the then state project directors of Rajiv Vidya Mission clearly show that the

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APCO has been directed to supply the cloth meant for the respective academic years by the end of academic year, i.e. in April of the respective year.

Sources said in all probability, the ring operated by Gujjala Srinu could have swindled more than Rs 200 crore without even supplying the cloth since they got the benefit of extension of deadline for supplying the cloth till the end of April.

It is known to one and all that the last working day for all government schools is April 23 every year and no one would even remember the next academic year about the non-supply of the cloth for the previous academic year, the sources told The News.

Further, the ring operated by Gujjala Srinu and actively assisted by Varaprasad and Prasad Reddy have bypassed the government orders stipulating that the APCO should supply the cloth through its local units. Instead, the ring purchased huge quantity of cloth from industries in Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country and supplied it to the schools thereby denying livelihood for the local handloom weavers.

Further, the ring had eliminated transport contractors who did not extend their cooperation for the irregular and illegal activity. Instead, they managed to rope in unauthorized and unlicensed transport operators though the guidelines stipulate that the transporters should have registered with APCO and have certain minimum experience besides financial resources to transport the cloth safely to the destination points.

In fact, according to GO Ms No.24, issued by the Industries and Commerce (Tex) Department on March 22, 2013, there are 3,82,349 handloom weavers as per handloomcensus 2009. But, the ring operated by Gujjala Srinu and actively supported by people like Hanumantha Rao, Gouri Sankar and Varaprasad have deprived lakhs of handloom weavers a living forcing them to starve with their families, but at the same time swindling hundreds of crores of rupees meant for the livelihood of the starving handloom weavers and their families.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that some RTI and social activists and some members of weavers? community are contemplating legal remedies to uncover the scandal and bring the culprits to book.

what happens in APCO

It might be pertinent to mention here that Varaprasad has been promoted from the rank of Marketing Officer to Senior Marketing Officer as a reward for his key role in swindling hundreds of crores of rupees. He will now have control over all the Marketing Officers working in APCO.

It is said Varaprasad has been able to enter APCO in the year 1982 without any recruitment. According to a report appeared in Weavers Times, the then managing director of APCO, P P Williams had helped Varaparasad enter APCO without a formal recruitment procedure.

However, he was suspended for resorting to gross irregularities and swindling public money while working in Kurnool district. A criminal case was also registered against him and 31 others including Prasad Reddy, which is still pending, the report said.

Subsequently, he managed to get reinstatement and got posting in Nalgonda district. Varaprasad did not mend his ways even after reinstatement but continued his corrupt activities. Bypassing the then APCO managing director Sameer Sarma?s directions to purchase stockpiled cloth from handloom weavers amounting to Rs 10 crore, Varaprasad purchased Rs 14 crore worth substandard cloth made by power looms. APCO had to sell the substandard cloth at 50 percent discount resulting not only in huge loss for the organization but also denial of justice for the handloom weavers, the report said.

The then APCO managing director Sameer Sarma ordered an enquiry and suspended Varaprasad. But he managed to get reinstatement using his clout and got posted to livery division at Secunderabad. It was exactly at this point of time the Rajiv Vidya Mission placed orders on APCO for the supply of crores of pairs of school uniforms.

Grabbing the opportunity, he along with Prasad Reddy joined hands with Gujjala Srinu and with the alleged active connivance of the chairman Hanumantha Rao, resorted to massive irregularities and swindled crores of rupees, the report claimed.

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