In the first decade of this century, when the Congress led by YS Rajasekhara Reddy was in power in United Andhra Pradesh, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Pvt Limited was seen as the most favored firm, one that would invariably bag the irrigation and other infrastructure projects. Krishna Reddy was close to KVP Ramachandra Rao, the right hand man of YSR. The Congress government between 2004 and 2009 focused on Jalayagnam in the irrigation sector and Krishna Reddy benefited hugely from the contracts.
It was during that time that the Telugu Desam accused YSR of being the `Raja of Corruption’, alleging that he made money from the irrigation contracts.
But that did not prevent Reddy from doing business with YSR’s bete noire Chandrababu Naidu when the latter came to power in Andhra Pradesh in 2014. He bagged the Rs 1200 crore Pattiseema project in 2015 that sought to transfer flood water from Godavari through a channel to the Krishna river and then supplied to drought-prone districts of Rayalaseema.
Incidentally in 2017, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) slammed the Pattiseema project calling it a “colossal waste of public money” and said the project’s cost outweighed its benefits. Besides, the government was accused of tweaking rules to favour contractors, wasting Rs 321 crore on the project.
The same year, the YSRCP released a book titled `Avineeti Chakravarthy’ (that translates to the Emperor of Corruption) to pay back Naidu in the same coin. In the book, Jaganmohan Reddy accused Naidu of corruption to the tune of Rs 3.75 lakh crore. Among the projects the book mentioned as instances of corruption were those in which Megha Engineering was involved.
Now the same Jaganmohan Reddy has awarded the Polavaram contract Megha Engineering after cancelling the earlier contract signed during Naidu’s time with Navayuga Engineering. Forgotten are the allegations of corruption in the Pattiseema project that were leveled when the YSRCP was in the opposition. Jagan now claims he has saved Rs 780 crore by cancelling the Naidu-time contract alleging there was corruption involved in the deal then.
But though Jagan claimed he will go in for reverse tenders, what has happened in the Polavaram project is not reverse tendering because that should be done only if at least two contractors participate in the bidding process. In this case, only Megha Engineering filed the bids and since it was lower than the price fixed by the government, it was accepted. Interestingly, eight parties had attended the pre-bid meeting on 9 September which is why it is strange that seven of them did not choose to file their bids.
Megha Engineering incidentally is involved in the construction of the Rs one lakh crore worth Kaleshwaram irrigation project in Telangana (pic below) in which the Congress has alleged massive corruption. The Megha group also made a foray into the media space, picking up the controlling stake in TV9 Telugu news channel along with Jupally Rameshwar Rao of the My Home Group. Both Rameshwar Rao and Krishna Reddy are deemed to be close to the ruling party.
With the roles now changes, Devineni Umamaheswara Rao who was Irrigation minister in the TDP government has alleged that the contract to Megha has been given at KCR’s instance.