In a new twist to the SNC Lavalin graft case, which figured CPI-M Kerala unit secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, the Canadian firm has questioned the CAG’s findings that the state did not benefit from the contract awarded to it to renovate three hydroelectric projects in 1998.
In its first reaction after the CBI sought to prosecute Vijayan, who was power minister when the deal was signed, Lavalin claimed that through the renovation work, the installed capacity of Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) had been increased by 10 per cent from 112.22 MW to 123.60 MW.
Contradicting the CAG’s finding that the state suffered a loss of Rs 374 crore under the deal, Lavalin said in statement posted on its website that it had saved KSEB’s Rs 104 crore as the work was carried out without shutting down the power stations fully.
But it noted there were severe droughts during the period of construction, commissioning and post-commissioning phases which reduced inflows into hydel reservoirs from 2001-03.
The auditor’s report concerning the project appeared to have been prepared during this period when power generation was low due to forces beyond its control.