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Before Raja, Maran too looted BSNL: Report

Maran forced the BSNL to virtually set up a private telephone exchange at his Chennai home.

Zeenews Bureau

Chennai: At a time when former telecom minister A Raja is being blamed for causing a colossal loss to the national exchequer by fraudulent distribution of scare spectrum, it has emerged that his predecessor Dayanidhi Maran too looted the BSNL by taking undue advantage of his position.

Reports, Thursday, claimed that Maran, while he was the Union Telecom Minister, forced the BSNL to virtually set up a private telephone exchange by connecting as many as 323 telephone lines to his home in Chennai.
The telephone lines, which were not meant for official purpose, were all listed in the name of the Chief General Manager BSNL Chennai.

All 323 telephone lines were fixed exclusively for Maran’s family businesses and for this the regional BSNL office laid 3.4 km long secret cable from his Boat Club home - along public roads - to SUN TV’s office at Anna Arivalayam in Anna Salai.

Sun Network is owned by his brother Kalanidhi.

The CBI had probed the fraud and even apprised the Secretary Telecom on 10.9.2007 about it, besides recommending action against Maran for the fraud.
The Maran’s home exchange was operational for several months from January 2007. The underground cables were not ordinary ones, but highly expensive ISDN lines, capable of carrying television programming.

The CBI has written in its probe report that, “These lines are normally used by medium to large commercial enterprises to meet special needs such as video conferencing, transmission of huge volume of digital data of audio and video – a facility that SUN TV needed for its broadcast operations. Since Maran was the Telecom Minister, the SUN TV paid no price for it and got it free.
The CBI further states that the Maran exchange was “programmed in such a way that no one other than the authorised BSNL staff were aware of the existence of such an exchange created for minister’s exclusive use”.

On the basis of calls made through these lines and the amount of multimedia date transferred between January 2007 to April 2007, the CBI calculated the probable loss to the tune of Rs 629.5 crore.

Maran, grand nephew of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, was union telecom minister from June 2004 to May 2007.