Chronology of corruption:13 years to truth

via PNS | Thirurvananthapuram published on December 30, 2009

The Rs 374.5-crore contract between the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and Canadian utility services giant SNC Lavalin for the repair and renovation of the hydel power projects at Panniyar, Pallivasal and Chenkulam has been mired in controversies right from the start. Even CPI(M) leaders had advised the Government against going for the contract and now it has reached a point where it is in an embarrassing situation with State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan appearing in court as seventh accused in the corruption case.

The incidents which led to the contract, controversies and finally to the stage where it has reached now are given below in chronological order:

February 4, 1996: The KSEB signs a memorandum of understanding with SNC Lavalin for consultancy services for the renovation of the three power projects when Congress leader G Karthikeyan was the power minister.

May 20, 1996: CPI(M)-led LDF Government under EK Nayanar as chief minister assumes power in Kerala. Pinarayi Vijayan becomes power minister. Without much lapse of time, SNC Lavalin officials hold talks with Pinarayi.

October 15, 1996: A four-member delegation headed by Pinarayi visits Canada. After talks with the company, they transform the consultancy MoU into a fixed price contract for distribution of equipments and services disregarding the stipulations in the MoU.

February 10, 1997: SNC Lavalin and KSEB sign the final agreement for equipment supply for all the three projects. But the Rs 98.30 crore grant offered by the company for Malabar Cancer Centre is not made a written condition of the agreement.

June 11, 1997: A high-level delegation including Pinarayi and headed by then chief minister Nayanar visits Canada again in connection with the deal.

January 1998: The KSEB approves the agreement with SNC Lavalin.

March 1998: A meeting of the State Cabinet gives approval for the agreement with SNC lavalin.

April 25, 1998: A separate MoU is signed between the Kerala Government and SNC Lavalin on the Rs 98.30 crore grant for Malabar Cancer Centre. In 2001, an Assembly subjects committee identified the problems and losses in the entire agreement.

January 11, 2002: The UDF government headed by AK Anotny orders a Vigilance probe into the matter on the basis of the subject committee’s report. The Vigilance registers a case and files and FIR in the court. But Vigilance DySP Sreekumaran Nair files an application in the Vigilance Court, Thiruvananthapuram, seeking permission to wind up the probe due to inability to find important files connected with the agreement.

July 13, 2005: The CAG files a report stating that the State had lost Rs 374.50 crore through the agreement with SNC Lavalin.

February 2006: Then Vigilance DGP Upendra Varma submits a probe report on the matter to the court and the government. Criticisms arise that Varma had filed his report by removing the name of Pinarayi Vijayan from the list of the accused in the report of Vigilance SP Prathapan.

March 3. 2006: UDF government under Oommen Chandy decides to launch a CBI probe into the controversy.

November 3, 2006: The CBI files an affidavit in the High Court stating that it had taken up the probe.

November 11, 2006: LDF regime’s Advocate General CP Sudhakara Prasad submits in the High Court that the CBI probe was not needed.

December 4, 2006: A meeting of the LDF Cabinet decides there was no need for a CBI probe.

January 16, 2007: The Kerala High Court issues order leaving the probe into the case to the CBI.

March 19, 2008: The High Court grants six more months to the CBI to complete the probe, which would be extended later.

January 21, 2009: The CBI files probe progress report in the High Court as well as the special CBI court in Kochi submitting that the probe was over and the chargesheet could be filed any day. State Home Minister and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan announces that the CBI had asked Governor’s permission to prosecute Pinarayi Vijayan.

June 6: Kerala Governor RS Gawai grants the CBI permission to prosecute Pinarayi.

June 11: CBI files chargesheet the Special CBI Court, Kochi listing Pinarayi as seventh accused

August 21: The court orders CBI to quiz G Karthikeyan; issues summons for Pinarayi by posting the case for September 24

September 24: Pinarayi stays away from appearing in the court on health grounds. The court posts the case to December 30.

December 30: Pinarayi appears in the Special CBI Court and gets bail. The court posts the case to April 23.

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