The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), on Monday, told its special court here that the former Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) Chairman V. Rajagopal was “not happy” with the terms of the fixed price contract the State government had struck with SNC-Lavalin to renovate and modernise three hydroelectric projects in Kerala in 1997 and that he “suspected foul play.”
Its prosecutor told CBI Judge R. Reghu that Mr. Rajagopal had appointed a committee under Subaida, a KSEB official, primarily to find out whether the contract had been struck at an exorbitant rate or not.
Mr. Rajagopal, above all, wanted to protect the interests of the KSEB and the State, the prosecutor said.
The Subaida committee compared the cost of renovation and modernisation of two comparable hydroelectric projects in the State, Neriyamangalam and Sabarigiri, and concluded that the KSEB had contracted SNC-Lavalin at an exorbitant rate to modernise the Pallivasal, Senkulam and Panniyar projects.
The KSEB then turned to the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to recheck the veracity of the findings of the Subaida committee.
However, the KSEB did not give the technical specifications of the project or the details of the power generation equipment to be purchased to the NHPC for price comparison, despite repeated reminders from the organisation.
Finally, based on the allegedly sparse data given by the KSEB to the NHPC, the organisation concluded that the fixed price rate contract awarded to SNC-Lavalin could be “considered reasonable” only if the promised grant element for the Malabar Cancer Centre (MCC) and the soft loan from the Canadian Export Development agency were factored into the cost estimate.
The CBI submitted that the Cabinet, which cleared the contract, was not told about the NHPC’s stance.
The CBI said that the accused had not even accorded “paper value” to the E. Balanandan committee report.
The court will hear the case again in October.