Heated exchanges in Kerala assembly over Lavalin scam

February 17th, 2009 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 17 (IANS) The Kerala assembly Tuesday witnessed uproarious scenes over the SNC Lavalin scam, in which a top leader of the state’s ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has been named as an accused.

The entire opposition walking out of the house after angry exchanges with the treasury benches over the case in which Pinarayi Vijayan, state secretary of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), is an accused.

The speech of K. Sudhakaran, senior leader of the opposition Congress party, was interrupted several times by the treasury benches after he said the Rs.3.74 billion scam was one of the biggest in the state.

“Why did he ignore a full fledged report of his own politburo member, E. Balanandan, who suggested that if one spent Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion), the three generators could have been repaired. But Vijayan went to Canada without any experts and fixed the price,” said Sudhakaran.

Replying to this, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the issue is now being looked into by the advocate general.

“The Kerala governor has forwarded a letter from the CBI demanding sanction for prosecution of Vijayan and we will take a decision once we hear from the advocate general,” said Achuthanandan.

Speaker K. Radhakrishnan disallowed an adjournment motion.

But leader of opposition Oommen Chandy reacted saying: “Vijayan who is on a state wide yatra is speaking on this issue. It would have been best if a discussion on this issue had taken place in the assembly because people are eager to know about it.

“If you have nothing to hide then why are you running away from it?” said Chandy and led the opposition out of the house.

Vijayan, as then state power minister, had awarded a contract to the Canadian company SNC Lavalin in 1997 for renovation of three power plants, but the comptroller and auditor general said there were irregularities in the contract.

Last month he was chargesheeted as the ninth accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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