THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: SENIOR bureaucrat James Varghese has lodged a complaint with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) saying the CAG audit of the Vizhinjam project carried factual errors and that procedures were not followed in its preparation.
James Varghese, now additional chief secretary, fisheries, with additional charge of forests, had been Ports Secretary during UDF rule when the concession agreement was signed with the Adani Group for the `7,525 crore port project.
The officer said he had written to the CAG in his individual capacity. He cited several procedural anomalies in the preparation of the report by the AG’s Office, one being the appointment of an auditor who was opposed to the project.
Two, a discussion between the government and the AG’s office is mandatory for the preparation of such a report, but the AG did not attend it. Thirdly, the final audit report on the project carried details that were absent in the preliminary report, which was an anomaly, according to him. Once the final draft of the report is sent back to Kerala from New Delhi, the government is given an opportunity to examine it. This was not done, James Varghese said in his complaint.
The CAG audit of the concession agreement of the Vizhinjam project, tabled in the Assembly on May 23, concluded the conditions of the concession agreement were not favourable to the state and that it allowed undue benefit to the Adani Group.
- The CAG’s findings were listed in the report on the public sector undertakings for the year-ended March 31, 2016. By fixing 40 years as the concession period instead of the standard 30, the Adani Group stood to take home an additional revenue of `29,217 crore.
- The previous UDF government had inked the concession agreement with Adani Vizhinjam Ports Pvt Ltd on August 17, 2015.
- On May 30, former chief minister V S Achuthanandan, alleging corruption in the deal, had demanded a white paper on the project.