Pinarayi Vijayan allegedly tried to get foreign currency equivalent to Rs 100 crore into the country through a private company in return for awarding a contract to a Canadian firm, says a confidential report of the CBI.
The amount was promised by SNC Lavalin in an MoU finalised by Vijayan in his capacity as Kerala power minister in 1996, the CBI said in its probe report submitted in the high court. The company was awarded the contract for renovation and modernisation of three hydroelectric power projects in the state by the CPM-led government.
It had agreed to pay Rs 243 crore initially to Lavalin for the entire work. In return, the company promised a Rs 100-crore grant for a cancer centre in Thallasserry district.
The CBI found the grant was sought to be directly transferred through a private firm to the proposed centre.
“In violation of the provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, no prior permission was taken from the Union Home Ministry for accepting the foreign grant amount nor was it routed through a designated bank account,” the report said. “SNC Lavalin routed the foreign grant amount through its own appointed Chennai-based consultants. As a minister, Vijayan was taking initiative regarding the cancer centre since the beginning. He cannot shirk his direct responsibility and blame anyone else.”
The CBI has charged Vijayan and other top power department officials of that time with “awarding the contract for a consideration and not on professional grounds”.
“The contract was given to SNC Lavalin at an exorbitant rate and the per megawatt cost for renovation and modernisation was the highest and it was accepted completely by the state government,” the report said. The agency, after recording the statements of officials who worked with Vijayan, has stated: “Suggestions and recommendations of top officials and Kerala State Electricity Board were summarily rejected, who said other companies should also be allowed to bid for the contract.”
The CPM, however, has refused to accept the CBI report, charging the agency with not being “immune from political pressure and influence of the ruling party at the Centre”. It has maintained that Vijayan only implemented the party decision.
“The decision to go ahead with Lavalin contract was taken by the LDF government headed by K.K.Nayanar in 1996. The proposal was discussed by the state secretariat of the party and Vijayan as minister implemented it,” the Politburo said.