Irregularities in Theerapadhom project
A court here on Tuesday ordered the police to investigate a petition accusing four persons, including the former Water Resources Minister, T.M. Jacob, of having “conspired to cause” huge losses to the exchequer by “shoddily and fraudulently” executing an ambitious piped drinking water supply project in Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation in 2005.
Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge S. Jagadees in his order directed the Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) to investigate whether the persons named as respondents in the private petition were “really involved in any offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
The judge said the VACB could file a first information report (FIR) in his court if any evidence warranting a detailed criminal investigation surfaced during the course of its investigation.
The Rs.10-crore Theerapadhom project had commenced in February 2005 with the aim of ensuring unhindered water supply to patients at the Medical College Hospital and thousands of homes in the adjoining low lying areas.
The work on the project had come to a halt on June 9, 2008. On June 17 the same year, the Executive Engineer of Public Health Division reported that the new pipelines laid for the project had ruptured 58 times. An amount of Rs.20 lakh had been spent on plugging the leaks.
The petitioner, P.K. Raju, alleged that the firm which took the contract had bought the pipes from Tamil Nadu. He said the Tamil Nadu State government had already rejected the pipes on the ground that they were of poor quality.
Other than Mr. Jacob, the petitioner had named the Kerala Water Authority Chief Engineer, the Public Health Division Executive Engineer and the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project Director as respondents in the case.
The judge observed that neither the statements of the complainant nor the documents produced by him revealed the involvement of the respondents in any of the offences alleged.
He said the gist of the allegation was that within a short span of time, the newly-installed pipelines had broken 58 times and an amount of Rs.20 lakh had been spent by the State to repair them.
In a statement here, Mr. Jacob said the project was implemented by the Department of Local Self-Government and not the Ministry of Water Resources. He said the petitioner could have erroneously named him as respondent in the case. The Water Resources Ministry had no role in the award of consultancy or contract for implementing the project.