Breaking its silence on the Rs 374.50-crore scam in Kerala, SNC Lavalin of Canada has denied any wrongdoing and, instead, blamed the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front government for not having cooperated with it.
SNC Lavalin is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly bagging the contract for renovation and modernisation of three power projects in 1996 at a very high price.
In a statement posted on its website, the company attacked the government for not showing interest in setting up a Rs 100-crore cancer centre in Thalasserry district, which it initially wanted in return for awarding the contract.
The Lavalin statement said, “At that time because of our long-term relationship with India, the company of its own goodwill agreed to the repeated requests from the government of Kerala to build a hospital and to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) accordingly.”
But, it said, “Numerous attempts from our side to enter into a formal agreement were ignored by the government and the MoU was finally allowed to expire in 2001.”
The CPI(M) refuted the CBI charge against its Kerala unit boss and Politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan of being involved in the scam, as Vijayan was power minister when the deal was finalised. The party had gone to the extent of saying that “there was no evidence of any irregularity in the Lavalin deal.”
Meanwhile, in Thiruvananthapuram, the war of words between Vijayan and Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan is far from over.
Achuthanandan was forced to be present on the concluding function of the Nava Kerala Yatra — a Vijayan show. In his speech, Vijayan hinted, quoting Urdu poet Iqbal, that nobody is greater than the party, taking a dig at the chief minister’s allegedly individualistic style of functioning.
In turn, Achuthanandan went a step further by equating the reformists in the party with Gorbachev, who presided over the fall of Soviet Union.
(With inputs from HTC, Thiruvananthapuram)