AI camera project cost shot up as Presidio procured equipment at a hefty margin

Representative image: SIphotography / wattanaphob

Kozhikode: The controversies over the artificial intelligence (AI) road camera project in Kerala refuse to die down in one way or another. Even as motorists are unhappy over penalisations for traffic offences, both real and perceived, the authorities continue to face charges on inflated project costs. More documents have come to light proving that the cost of the Safe Kerala Project by which AI camera were installed on roads doubled owing to the intermediary Presidio Technologies Pvt Ltd.

As is well-known Kerala Government undertaking Keltron was awarded the contract for the Safe Kerala project for AI camera surveillance on behalf of the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD). But primary contractor SRIT, which is based in Bengaluru, gave a sub-contract to Presidio, which was set up only in 2018. The Kozhikode-based firm had only two years working experience when it became part of the consortium.

Now, purchase orders issued by the SRIT to the sub-contractor Presidio and a similar order given by Lyte Master company to Trois to buy the same equipment have come to light. They suggest Presidio had pocketed a big sum by acting as the intermediary in the deal.

These purchase orders show the cost of the project, which would have been a maximum of Rs 70 crore if KELTRON or the Transport department had bought the equipment directly, went up to Rs 151 crore because of the role played by Presadio.

The same pieces of equipment that Trois promised Al Hind and Lyte Master to sell at Rs 50 crore were bought by Presadio through eCentric company and were resold to SRIT at Rs 75 crore. Although the purchase order of Presadio contains more computers, laptops, and printers, they too are priced much higher than the market rate.

Al Hind, which was part of the project in the initial stages, withdrew after the company was pressured to buy the equipment only from Trois. Following this, Lyte Master was co-opted. The price fixed by Trois for the equipment was Rs 50 crore even under this contract. But, Lyte Master too backtracked from the project, bringing eCentric into the picture.

A purchase order had been issued to Trois before Lyte Master withdrew from the project. The details in this purchase order make it clear that Presadio sold the equipment to SRIT at over double the rate of procurement. Earlier, the Kozhikode-based Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society Limited had refuted claims that it has links to SRIT.

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