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dna exclusive: Capable Mumbai University outsources work, wastes Rs7 crore

Thursday, 2 January 2014 - 7:08am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Confidential letter questions Mumbai University's decision to engage controversial firm to build digital network in 670 colleges.

The Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL), the outsourcing firm hired by University of Mumbai to establish digital network among more than 670 colleges handling over 6.5 lakh students, has claimed over Rs7 crore in past seven years for the services which is still continued.

It has now emerged that the varsity didn’t require any outsourcing firm in the first place. University Computerisation Centre (UCC), which handles e-governance of the varsity and had originally mooted the concept in 2005, was and is able to handle the work on its own.

Making strong remarks against the firm in an internal communication (dna has accessed the letter) early last month, the head of the UCC department, Prof Mohan Kumar stated, “As per the MoU dated 18.11.2006, it is agreed that there will be a handover phase…till date we have paid Rs4.31 crore for web-based services and now there is further demand of Rs2.3 crore with the total claim of Rs7.04 crore, but the project is yet to be handed over to us.”

The letter also read, “Seven years have passed and now it’s time to handover the project either completed or incomplete…With the present strength, the UCC in a position to take up the work in the event of MKCL handover.” This exposes how despite being able to do the job, the varsity is wasting tax-payers’ money paying an outsourcing firm.

This is first such strong communication against the controversial firm despite gross goof ups and non-delivery of several services. It was prompted by varsity’s finance department’s letter seeking UCC report about the performance of MKCL before paying the latest bill of Rs.2.73 crore claimed at November end.

Shocked with the query, Kumar replies, “The MKCL is not in touch with UCC for any of the projects that they are involved with the University of Mumbai….in spite my approach with them as per the directions of Vice Chancellor.” Expressing his anger over “high-handedness” of the firm, the professor states that the firm needs to closely work with the UCC for efficient execution.

The controversial firm has only delivered online exam-form services for the past three years. Both led to major goof-ups. Strongly backed by the state, the firm has all state varsities, including Mumbai University as major stake-holders.

In three reports, in the month of October-November, dna had reported about CAG remarks against the firm and also how MKCL had denied info under RTI, claiming that it’s not a government agency.

That time, refuting the allegations of poor show of the firm, Rajesh Tope, minister for higher and technical education, had not only given vague answers about the firm’s ownership, private or government, but also lauded its role in “digital literacy”.

Mohan Kumar refused to comment. Vice Chancellor Rajan Welukar couldn’t be contacted.

Too many IT firms
The letter also points out that varsity has callously hired several software firms, including big and small agencies. It says, “Time has come to take stock of all activities and consolidate them.”

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