KSEB-SNC Lavalin deal:12 years to truth

via Pioneer News Service | Thiruvananthapuram published on January 22, 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 problem right from its start.

Even
CPI(M) leaders had advised the Government against going for the
contract and now it has reached a point where the Marxist party is in
an embarrassing situation with the CBI reportedly naming its State
secretary

Pinarayi Vijayan as an accused in the corruption case related with it.

The
incidents which led to the contract and into the controversies and
finally into 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: A 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 Dileep Rahul and MA Nasser 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 the then Chief Minister
Nayanar visit 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 memorandum of understanding 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 Comptroller and Auditor General 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. Criticism
arises 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: The UDF Government under Oommen Chandy decides to launch a CBI probe into the controversy.

May 2006: Moves are made to sabotage the CBI probe after LDF’s advent to power in the State.

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

November 11, 2006: 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.

September 23, 2008: High Court grants the CBI request for more time to complete the probe and grants four more months.

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.

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