Lavalin contract no big loss: Isaac

Special Correspondent

Says power generation now exceeds target

Says G. Karthikeyan should have been first accused

Alleges charges against Vijayan politically motivated

KANNUR: Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has denied that the controversial contract with SNC Lavalin has caused a huge drain on the State exchequer.

Speaking at a meet-the-press here on Saturday, Dr. Isaac said the State was claimed to have suffered a huge loss from the contract because the expected increase in power generation did not materialise after the renovation and modernisation of the Panniyar, Pallivasal and Shenkulam hydroelectric projects in the year of implementation and the succeeding year. Attributing this to poor rainfall during those years, he said power generation from these projects had now exceeded what was envisaged.

If the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) finding of a criminal conspiracy on the part of former Electricity Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had been true, Congress leader G. Karthikeyan, who had been Electricity Minister in the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government, should have been the first accused because the projects had been started by that government.

It was the UDF government which had decided to go for the MoU route for the renovation and modernisation of the three projects and the Kuttyadi extension work, he said adding that it had already completed two phases of the MoU signed with the Canadian company. He said the successive E.K. Nayanar government had two choices: either to terminate the agreement to go for global tender and face legal measures or to complete the works.

Grant for MCC

None of the conditions made by the previous UDF government had been changed in the agreement signed during the term of the Nayanar government, he said adding that there was, in fact, reduction in various charges and interest rates in the agreement.

Alleging that the CBI’s charges against Mr. Vijayan were politically motivated, the Minister said the case was “an offspring of the political sorcery of [Leader of the Opposition] Oommen Chandy and [Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president] Ramesh Chennithala.” Asked why the present Left Democratic Front government had welcomed a CBI inquiry if it saw no irregularity in the agreement, Dr. Isaac said the government had never welcomed the probe.

The investigation had been conducted under direction from the High Court, the Minister said.

As for the unfulfilled assurance of financial grant by SNC Lavalin to the Malabar Cancer Centre at Thalassery as part of the contract agreement, the Minister said the assured grant was only foreign aid of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) linked to the agreement.

The successive UDF government had not even renewed the contract, he said adding that it had led to the loss of grant to the centre.

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