The counsel for the State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], Pinarayi Vijayan, on Wednesday told the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) Special Court here that his client, as Minister for Electricity, had committed no illegality by choosing to ignore the recommendations of two government appointed committees in 1996-97 to suggest measures to tide over the power crisis that gripped the State that year.
The E. Balananandan committee report submitted to the government in 1997 was not a detailed one and did not offer comprehensive and viable suggestions, including long-term sustainable solutions, to pre-empt such situations in the State. The committee, pointedly, did not conduct any spot study at Panniyar, Senkulam and Paripally projects.
The Subaida committee report on the same subject was “unclear” on the course of action the State should take to effectively address the power crisis. Mr. Vijayan’s counsel said the government’s executive prerogative to accept or reject a report submitted by a committee appointed and funded by it could not be challenged.
Mr. Vijayan had visited Canada in 1996 to discuss the financial aspects of the State’s deal with SNC-Lavalin to renovate and modernise the three hydro electric projects. His ministerial delegation did not dwell on technical matters in its discussions with the representatives of SNC-Lavalin. The agenda of the meeting was declared early and hence there was no requirement on the part of the government to include members with technical expertise in the delegation.
Special Judge R. Reghu asked the counsel to clarify why a global tender was avoided in the contract in question. He also asked why the promised assistance to the government to set up a cancer centre in Kannur found no reference in the various communications between the State and SNC-Lavalin in 1997.
The counsel said the CBI inquiry covered the deals the State government struck with SNC-Lavalin during the 1996-2002 periods. Mr. Vijayan relinquished charge as power minister in October 1998.
After him, four persons held the power portfolio. The CBI’s investigation seemed confined solely to the period Mr. Vijayan had held charge and this was unfair.