Kerala government refuses probe into Vizhinjam port project

February 18th, 2009 - 5:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 18 (IANS) The entire opposition walked out of the Kerala assembly Wednesday after the state government refused to order a probe into the contract awarded to a private firm for the construction of Rs.53.48-billion port at Vizhinjam.
Congress legislator V.D. Satheesan sought an adjournment motion to discuss the issue after Supreme Court Feb 10 upheld the Kerala High Court’s verdict asking the government to consider Zoom Developers’ tender quotation.

“The apex court has clearly said that there was a conspiracy favouring Lanco Kondapalli, who was given the tender to built the port. The state would have lost Rs.332 crores (Rs.3.32 billion) had not the apex court intervened. And now the project is going to be delayed because Zoom Developers’ tender has to be considered,” Satheeshan said.

The assembly witnessed heated exchange between Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy and State Ports Minister M. Vijayakumar on the issue.

Vijayakumar, in his reply, charged previous Congress government led by Chandy for the delay and said it was during Chandy’s tenure a study was conducted by government agency which said that real estate gains could be made by acquiring more land than what was required.

Chandy said: “With folded hands my plea to you is to order any probe that will cover all the work taken up for the proposed project under my tenure as well as what you have done. Please order a probe and let the truth come out.”

After the minister’s statement, Speaker K. Radhakrishnan denied the leave for the motion and the entire opposition staged a walk out.

Following the apex court judgment last week, Zoom’s tender will now be considered.

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

The port, once ready, would create 5,000 direct and 150,000 indirect jobs and would be able to handle 4.1 million containers annually.

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