Former minister breaks silence on Canadian deal

John Mary
The Peninsula
July 21, 2005

Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan yesterday broke his silence on the controversial the Canada-based SNC Lavalin contract, admitting that the company has erred in its commitment to Kerala.

At a press conference in Kochi, Vijayan urged Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to resume negotiations with the company lest the state lose the entire benefit of the Rs3.74bn contract, signed in 1998.

The government should ensure that the company honoured its commitment on mobilising Rs980m for the Malabar Cancer Centre. But he alleged that the current controversy, sparked off the by the deliberate leak of the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s preliminary report, was part of a high-level conspiracy against him.

However, even as the Vijayan tried to clarify his role as the former Power Minister, BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai, accused both the ruling dispensation and the Opposition of playing hide-and-seek on the dubious power contract.

Pillai said the state government should straightaway recommend a probe by the Federal Central Bureau of Investigation so that Interpol could dig into how much money had been collected by Lavalin for Malabar Cancer Centre and how of much of its had been handed over.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said at the Cabinet briefing here that the government was in favour of recommending blacklisting the company but what still belied logic was why such a shoddy contract had been drafted and whether there had been any lapse in safeguarding the interests of the state.

However, at the press conference in Kochi, Vjiayan was at his evasive best on a few occasions when he said he was not aware of the amount given to Lavalin during the Left regime and what amount had come from Lavalin for the cancer centre.

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