February 17, 2006
The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) will pursue the SNC Lavalin case seriously. The party is in favour of a thorough discussion on the deal and wanted to go to the roots of the controversial deal.
Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala termed the SNC Lavalin deal as the biggest scam in the history of Kerala and urged Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan to ask his cadres to cooperate with the KPCC’s efforts to bring out the truth.
[The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has found that the expenditure incurred on the renovation of the Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniar hydroelectric projects, with the involvement of the Canadian firm SNC Lavalin and spending Rs.374.50 crores, had not yielded commensurate gains.]
Mr. Chennithala accused the Communist Party of India (Marxist) of trying to sabotage the discussion on the issue in the Assembly by raising lame excuses. “Pinarayi Vijayan’s complicity has been proved beyond doubt [in the CAG report]. Even God can’t save him,” the KPCC chief said.
Pointing out the lapses in the deal, he said the consultancy agreement [with SNC Lavalin] was converted into a purchase agreement even without negotiating the prices. SNC Lavalin was only a consultant and another company had to supply the machinery.
“Pinarayi is the first accused; the Government has to take legal action,” he said.
The KPCC chief refuted the allegation that the Congress was having an understanding with those involved in the deal for a cover-up.
Giving a clean chit to the former Power Minister G. Karthikeyan, the KPCC president said Mr. Karthikeyan had signed only a memorandum of understanding [with SNC Lavalin], and there was no compulsion for Mr. Pinarayi to sign an agreement without going into the details. Had the Left Democratic Front Government that succeeded the United Democratic Front Government acted upon all the proposals made by the predecessor, he asked. The agreement was signed ignoring an adverse report submitted by the E. Balanandan Committee and not even one unit of electricity was generated under the three hydroelectric projects. Though the CPI(M) considers CAG reports as `holy books,’ the present report is sought to be concealed by the party, he said.
Asked about the possibility of return of the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran) leaders K. Karunakaran and K. Muraleedharan to the Congress, he said the party was ready to welcome those who accepted the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. None can forget Mr. Karunakaran’s contributions to the Congress, he said and commented that the DIC(K) leader was being humiliated by CPI leader Veliyam Bhargavan.
Answering another question, he said the party welcomed the proposed scrutiny of electoral rolls by the Election Commission. There were discrepancies in the electoral rolls in the State in general and in the northern districts in particular, he added.