Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Its time Pinarayi Vijayan take some moral lessons from Advani

It is foolhardy to compare a leader of Advani's stature to Kerala CPM Party Secretary. But it is worthwhile how two leaders behaved in similar situations.

In Jain Hawala Case, Advani voluntarily relinquished public office when he was charged about corruption based entirely on a diary entry till he was cleared of the charge by the courts.

Now CBI has decided to interrogate state CPI(M) secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala’s biggest financial scam, the Rs 98 crore SNC Lavalin case. However, in Pinarayi Vijayan case CPM who behaves "holier than thou" has just made him Kerala Party Secretary third time!.

In 1996 Congress-led UDF Government got the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to sign an agreement with a Canadian power consulting company, SNC Lavalin, for replacing and modernising the obsolete generators in three hydroelectric projects at Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniar. Later when CPM led LDF came to power Vijayan, as the Power Minister personally lead led the renegotiation of the contract with the Canadian company. The new deal had the state Government agreeing to an additional Rs 149.15 crore for Lavalin to buy the needed equipment from suppliers—Lavalin itself manufactured no such equipment.

In the process, Pinarayi Vijayan ignored recommendations of its own power reforms expert panel headed by senior CPI(M) leader and former CITU national president E Balanandan. The Balanandan panel had underlined that Lavalin’s costs were excessive and suggested far more effective and cheaper alternatives. One was that the public sector BHEL was equipped and could take up the job at far lesser cost. (yes you heard it right CPM who swears by Public sector, Ignored the cheaper BHEL to give order to MNC SNC Lavanil

The crux of the scandal is, Vijayan, who renegotiated the arrangement with Lavalin got Lavalin to dole out a Rs 98 crore grant to set up a cancer hospital at Thalassery, home constituency of Chief Minister Nayanar, in return for firming the contract. This, however, was no legally enforceable deal, and the hospital project eventually got barely Rs 9 crore from Lavalin, which went to a private firm in Chennai, given the job of setting up the hospital building. There is still no track of where the remaining money went, if at all it did come, and if it did not, why not.

The ultimate Irony is the  power generation had actually fallen afterwards, compared to pre-project output.

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