But a PGCIL executive rubbished the security concerns, saying the order was given to Fiberhome, which is an Indian company based in Noida, after due diligence and clearance from the committee of grievances in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
In a recent letter to PGCIL chairman Kandikuppa Sreekant, the Telecom Exports Promotion Council (TEPC) said that telecom equipment coming from China could pose a “serious threat” to India’s national security and called on the company to wind up the contract and float a fresh tender. A copy of the letter, which was reviewed by ET, was also sent to the National Security Advisor (NSA), and secretaries of power and home ministeries.
“PowerGrid telecom network is being used by various government agencies such as the National Informatics Centre (NIC), Intelligence Bureau (IB), and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for transmission of critical data and information,” the TEPC letter said.
The PGCIL executive though countered, saying a lobby was trying to ensure the tender was cancelled even at the tendering stage. “The committee of grievances had disposed off a petition of the lobby, allowing PGCIL to award the contract. The order was passed in favour of PGCIL on March 22, 2019.”
The Indian unit of Fiberhome, a Wuhan-based producer of fibre optic, had in mid-2019 bagged a pan-India fibre-based network programme contract from PGCIL that aims to offer broadband services and resell bandwidth to public departments.
While sources at the industry body put the contract value at ₹3,500 crore, the PGCIL executive pegged the value at ₹155 crore plus taxes.