Power Minister A. K. Balan has rebutted allegations of corruption in the appointments to and purchases by the Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT), an autonomous institution under the State government.
Responding to an adjournment motion sought to be moved by P. C. George (KC-M) in the Assembly on Thursday, Mr. Balan said the allegations had gone to three courts and had been found to be baseless. He offered to go in for any kind of inquiry if the Opposition could produce any additional evidence for corruption in the purchases of the agency or in the appointments made to it.
The Electricity Minister said the government had decided to form a new company under the aegis of ANERT to exploit the non-conventional energy potential in the State. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) could not go about implementing micro hydel projects which could generate an estimated 330 MW power and the ANERT by itself was not in a position to secure assistance from the Centre for promoting non-conventional energy. Around Rs. 8 crores had been set apart for forming the company, he said.
Seeking leave for the motion, Mr. George alleged that there was large-scale corruption involved in the purchases being made by ANERT and that recruitment to top posts were being made without observing any of the established norms. Both the Power Secretary and the Planning Secretary had objected to the decisions being taken by the ANERT authorities, but the government had still not taken any action in the matter, he said.
The Power Minister said that contrary to what had been alleged by the member the number of employees of ANERT had been brought down from 196 to 190 as part of a revamp effected recently and that recruitment of technically qualified personnel was being carried out under the guidance of a three-member panel chaired by former chief secretary C. P. Nair. However, on a suggestion from Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, he offered to look into Mr. George’s allegation that ANERT was selling equipment at prices much above the open market prices for the same products.