In another dramatic twist to the solar scam, the accused, Saritha S. Nair, deposed before the judicial panel on Wednesday that she had bribed Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed on the assurance that they would facilitate government support for her solar projects.
Ms. Nair told the G. Sivarajan Commission that she had handed over Rs. 1.90 crore to Thomas Kuruvila, a close aide of the Chief Minister, in New Delhi. The bribe was paid in two instalments as directed by Jikkumon Jacob, then Additional Private Secretary to the Chief Minister, for facilitating the mega solar power projects of Solar, the company in which she was a director.
She said she had met the Chief Minister first in June 2011 at his office. The CM, she said, suggested a floating power station like the one set up in the Banasurasagar Dam in Wayanad. She claimed that the Chief Minister then introduced her to Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed. According to her, it was the Chief Minister who asked her to meet Thomas Kuruvila. The meeting took place on December 27, 2012, at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, when he was about to leave for the airport after attending a meeting of the National Development Council. The bag containing Rs. 1.10 crore was handed over to Kuruvila in the parking area of a mall at Chandni Chowk. Later, according to her, Kuruvila collected Rs. 80 lakh more from her home at Edapazhanji in Thiruvananthapuram.
Ms. Nair said she had appraised the Chief Minister of all these financial transactions, and the Chief Minister had offered all help to push the projects. The CM, she claimed, had offered to allow government holdings on lease for the projects.
According to her, it was on July 9, 2012 that she, along with the Mallelil Sreedharan Nair, a businessman, met the Chief Minister at his office at the government secretariat. It was after communicating the details on the phone that the meeting was fixed. The Chief Minister assured them that the government holdings would be given on lease for the projects. He also offered single window clearance and subsidies for the projects. Mr. Nair offered to invest in the projects after the assurance from the Chief Minister.
According to her, the Chief Minister asked her to meet Abbas, the private secretary of Industries Minister P.K. Kunjalikutty. Mr. Abbas promised her to identify the holdings in a couple of days, she said.
Regarding her meetings with the Power Minister, she said she met the Power Minister at his official residence. It was his personal assistant Keshavan who suggested that bribes be paid for taking the projects further. Though he demanded Rs. 2 crore, he settled for Rs. 1 crore after negotiations, and Rs. 25 lakh was paid as the first instalment at Manmohan Banglow, his official residence. Though an additional Rs. 15 lakh was paid to the Minister later, he didn’t render any help, and he didn’t return the money, despite her repeated demands.
It was Kuruvila who facilitated the meeting with the Chief Minister outside Vigyan Bhavan, Ms. Nair said.
The panel will continue its examination of Ms. Nair on Thursday.