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Lavalin heat on Cong, CBI to probe leader

india Updated: Jun 24, 2009 01:04 IST
HT Correspondent

Are senior Congress leaders also involved in the Lavalin scam?

A special court in Kochi on Tuesday ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the role of former Kerala power minister G Karthikeyan, now deputy leader of the Congress in the assembly, whose name was earlier dropped from the Lavalin charge sheet.

The court also told the CBI to probe of R Gopalakrishnan, a senior State Electricity Board (SEB) official.

CPI(M) State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan is one of the prime accused in the case. He has been charged with wrongfully awarding a Rs 374.50-crore contract to SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian firm, for renovating three power plants when he was the power minister in 1997. The state lost crores of rupees as a result of this contract which was awarded without floating global tenders.

The issue has divided the CPI(M) in the state and was one of the main contributing factors to the Left Front’s electoral debacle.

CBI Special Judge KP Jyothindranath also issued summons to Vijayan and eight others, ordering them to appear before the court on September 24.

The upbeat Congress camp turned gloomy all of a sudden after the CBI judge ordered the agency to investigate Karthikeyan’s role. The CBI had mentioned in the charge sheet that though Karthikeyan had initiated the deal with the Canadian firm, the agency could not find any evidence against him and former SEB member.

However, the Congress put up a brave public face. “We aren’t scared. We all know what Karthikeyan’s role was,” said party leader Aryadan Mohamed.

Karthikyan was the power minister in 1995 when the UDF government signed a MoU with Lavalin to renovate three hydro-electric plants. But in the MoU, Lavalin was only a consultant, not the supplier of equipment. In 1996 the then LDF Government re-negotiated the entire deal, making Lavalin the supplier of equipment.