THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Call it a major move to dig up the dirt on the Rs 7,525 crore Vizhinjam international port project’s concession agreement based on the CAG report. The state government has launched a probe by a panel led by retired High Court judge Justice C N Ramachandran Nair.
The panel will include former shipping secretary K Mohandas and P G Mathew, a former Indian Audit and Accounts Service officer. It will function as per the Commissions of Inquiry Act and is expected to submit its report within six months. The terms of reference will be decided later.
The CAG report said the conditions of the concession agreement were not in favour of the state and it allowed undue benefit to the private partner - Adani Group. By fixing 40 years as the concession period instead of the standard 30, the Adani Group would take home an additional revenue of Rs 29,217 crore. Again, by providing a clause whereby the concession can be extended by another 20 years, Adani would benefit by Rs 61,095 crore, said the report.
The government’s justification the concession period was fixed as 40 years because the initiative was a major greenfield project involving high risks did not go down well with the CAG. It noted the proposed port at Colachel in Tamil Nadu was a project similar to Vizhinjam, but its concession period was pegged at 30 years.
It was the previous Oommen Chandy-led UDF government which inked the concession agreement with Adani Vizhinjam Ports Pvt Ltd on August 17, 2015, overriding the objections of the LDF, which was in the Opposition.