Alleges that final decision on modernisation project came at fag end of its term

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy has held the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government responsible for the crisis being faced by public sector undertaking Travancore Titanium Products on account of the delay in implementing its modernisation and pollution control projects.

In a statement here on Saturday, Mr. Chandy said the LDF government took the decision to implement the modernisation and pollution control project worth Rs.83 crore only at a Special Cabinet meeting on February 27 this year and followed it up by issuing a government order on March 1.

The final decision came only at the fag end of the LDF government's term in office after earlier two attempts reached nowhere.

The neutralisation plant project now under implementation was awarded for Rs.45 crore without even the mandatory government order. The project cost was much higher than the estimates prepared by the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government. “The LDF has fielded some people to create a smokescreen to conceal the corruption in the deal,” he said.

He said it had been proposed to implement the modernisation and pollution control project in two phases, with the first estimated to cost Rs.129 crore and the second Rs.127 crore. However, the Union Environment Ministry cleared only the first phase and on the basis of this, the previous UDF government completed only the preliminary work.

New project

In 2007, the LDF government formulated another two-phase project at a total cost of Rs.414 crore. The director board of TTP decided to implement only the first phase on account of the financial crisis the company was facing. However, this project too did not materialise. But the LDF leaders were now putting the blame on the UDF government.

The UDF government had proposed the Rs.127-crore project for setting up an acid recovery plant, Copperas recovery plant and neutralisation plant, besides raising the production of titanium from 45 to 65 tonnes a day. The LDF government decided to implement only the Copperas and neutralisation plant, while dropping the modernisation proposal.

The UDF had only issued a letter of credit for the import of machinery. The LDF government could have cancelled the LoC if there were any irregularities. Instead of adopting this, Industry Minister Elamaram Karim commissioned the project five months into his tenure. “At no stage had the UDF government entered into any financial contract with any company. I had requested the LDF government to cancel the proposal if there were any shortcomings. The Minister, who did not find anything amiss with the project at the time of its implementation, was now making allegations of corruption. Still, I am ready to face any kind of inquiry,” he said.

Mr. Chandy's statement here was in response to the Industry Minister's statement validating the statement of Congress leader K.K. Ramachandran, a minister in Chandy's Cabinet, who had alleged that he had been removed from office because he did not permit a corrupt deal related to TTP.