Kerala opposition seeks probe into port work award

December 11th, 2008 - 6:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 11 (IANS) The Congress-led opposition in Kerala Thursday demanded a judicial probe into the tendering process of the proposed Rs.53.48-billion port at Vizhinjam, near the famed tourist destination of Kovalam.Opposition legislator P.C. George sought to move an adjournment motion, saying that the government has played spoil-sport and has awarded the contract to a consortium comprising the Hyderabad-based Lanco Kondapalli Power Ltd, Malaysia-based Pembinaan Redzai Sdn Bhd and Lanco Infrastructure Ltd.

“The Mumbai-based Zoom Developers in their quotation had said they would give to the government after 10 years a sum of Rs.447 crore (Rs.4.47 billion) if they were given the contract, and instead you gave it to Lanco, which has offered just Rs.115 crore (Rs.1.15 billion),” said George.

After Speaker K. Radhakrishnan disallowed the motion, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy said it had become clear that the tendering process was “not fair and transparent”.

Later the opposition staged a walkout from the assembly.

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.

“Everything is clear and transparent and there was a valid reason for not giving the contract to Zoom, because their tender forms were not properly submitted. They changed the partner in between. We will approach the Supreme Court against the division bench verdict,” Ports Minister M. Vijayakumar said.

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. The natural depth is 24 metres, 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.

The port, once ready, would create 5,000 direct and 150,000 indirect jobs.

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