Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan told a CBI special court here on Tuesday that the investigating agency’s allegation that a grant of Rs.86.25 crore to the Malabar Cancer Centre (MCC) was a reciprocal arrangement the State had struck with SNC-Lavalin for giving the Canadian firm the contract to renovate three hydroelectric projects in Kerala was false.
He said there was no offer of grant at the time the memorandum of understanding (MoU) and implementation contracts were executed in 1995-96. At no point had SNC-Lavalin made the offer in reciprocation for the contracts.
In another MoU signed when he was Power Minister in 1998, the State government reached a broad understanding with SNC-Lavalin, reflecting the company’s readiness to arrange assistance for the establishment of the MCC.
The MoU signed when Mr. Vijayan was Power Minister also envisaged the execution of a regular agreement for the purpose. The MoU was valid for 180 days. Soon, Mr. Vijayan laid down his office as Power Minister in October 1998. The subsequent government renewed the MoU till 2002, after which it was allowed to lapse.
The agreement was valid till Mr. Vijayan was in government and he had commissioned the first phase of the MCC at a cost of Rs.12 crore. SNC-Lavalin never reneged on its commitment to arrange finance for the project. Its officials had attended the meetings of the MCC implementation committee several times.
In 2001, the company wrote to the then Chief Minister A. K. Antony stressing the need to have an agreement executed in place of the MoU signed during Mr. Vijayan’s tenure as Minister to implement the project at the earliest. The government did not respond to the company’s letter despite several reminders, he told the court.