No corruption in Vizhinjam project, says panel

The three-member judicial commission that inquired into the pact signed by the previous United Democratic Front government with Adani Vizhinjam Ports Ltd (AVLP) for the Vizhinjam International Multipurpose Deepwater Seaport has concluded that there was ‘no corruption associated’ with the State’s dream project and that there was ‘no misuse of political power’.

Giving a clean chit to Congress leader and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and others, the commission headed by former judge of the High Court C.N. Ramachandran Nair noted that no one had raised allegations against Mr. Chandy nor given any proof in this regard to the commission.

The report was handed over to Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan at the Secretariat here on Monday by Mr. Nair. Former Union Secretary for Shipping K. Mohandas and P.J. Mathew, a former Indian Audit and Accounts Service Officer, are the other members of the commission, appointed under the Commission of Inquiry Act.

The inquiry was ordered by the LDF government against the backdrop of the observations made by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in his report on the lapses on the part of the government while signing the pact with AVLP.

The CAG’s report had mentioned that the State’s interest was not protected in the pact and that by extending the contract period of the project by 40 years, the Adani Group would gain an extra income of ₹29,217 crore.

The commission concluded that the Union and State governments had in the initial stages come to the view that the project was not viable and that viability gap funding was provided. The VGF had the nod of the erstwhile Planning Commission and there was no need for any inquiry into it.

AVLP of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), the private multi-port operator, was selected through global bidding to build the superstructure and operate the seaport. The project work is on as per the pact and it should continue, Mr. Nair said.

The commission is learnt to have come down heavily against the CAG report and for not seeking explanation from the officials associated with the project or hearing them. During the hearing, the commission had come out against the CAG report.

Mr. Chandy, who took the lead in signing the agreement with the Adanis, had maintained that the 40-year period had been agreed as per the model PPP agreement approved by the erstwhile Planning Commission.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 9:12:22 AM |

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