Chief Minister’s son involved in corrupt deal: Kerala legislator

December 16th, 2008 - 9:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 16 (IANS) Kerala opposition legislator P.C. George Tuesday alleged Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan’s son V. Arunkumar was involved in the tendering process for the proposed Rs.53.48 billion project for a port at Vizhinjam. The Congress-led opposition in Kerala last week demanded a judicial probe into the process for awarding the contract for the port.

George heads the Kerala Congress (Secular) party which was part of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) that rules the state but last year crossed over to the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF), headed by the Congress party.

Addressing reporters here, he warned Achuthanandan that his clean image could take a beating if he does not sack the Ports Minister M.Vijayakumar, whom he termed the “real villain” in the episode.

“I have written to Achuthanandan today, telling him there is widespread talk that his son is behind the corrupt deal with the company that has been given the tender to built the Vizhinjam port,” said George.

“The first thing he should do is to sack Vijayakumar and order a judicial inquiry into the tendering process. In case, he does not do anything, then his name also could be dragged into this,” he added.

Last week this issue created furore in the assembly, after the Congress claimed the government had awarded the project to the firm which had promised a lower sum to the government.

Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy said that the Mumbai-based Zoom Developers, in their quotation, said they would give to the government Rs.447 crore (Rs.4.47 billion) after 10 years if they were given the contract.

However, the project was awarded to a consortium comprising Hyderabad-based Lanco Kondapalli Power Ltd, Malaysia-based Pembinaan Redzai Sdn Bhd and Lanco Infrastructure Ltd., which offered just Rs.115 crore (Rs.1.15 billion).

The opposition raised this issue after last week the Kerala High Court’s division bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu asked a committee to look into Zoom Developers’ tender quotation in 15 days. The state government later filed a review petition, but the court refused to admit it.

The state government Monday filed an appeal against the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court.

The project is being developed under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme and will be handed over to the state government after 30 years.

A major advantage of Vizhinjam port is that it needs no dredging, as its natural depth is 24 meters, one of the deepest in the world.

Another advantage is that the proposed port lies very close to a busy international shipping route. It is to be built on an area of 150 acres and there will be no displacement of local fishermen. The port will be able to handle 4.1 million containers annually.

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