THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A day after the State Government opened the price bid of Welspun, former Ports Minister V Surendran Pillai has demanded that the State Government should examine why Mundra Ports and SEZ Ltd was denied clearance by the Home Ministry after the Defence and External Affairs Ministry had waved the green flag.
Addressing a press conference here, he voiced his suspicions that international port lobbies and the Centre were out to scuttle the multi-crore Vizhinjam International Seaport (ICTT) project.
Surendran Pillai said that Mundra was a fully Indian company which ran a port successfully. A detailed investigation by the State Government was called for to throw light on the involvement of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and the Ministry of Shipping in denying clearance to Mundra.
The role of the international ports lobby also should be probed, Surendran Pillai, who held the state ports portfolio during the last days of the previous LDF government, said. ‘’The prior experience of Welspun in the ports sector is another factor that has to be examined,’’ he said. Surendran Pillai drew attention to the fact that twice before, attempts by Kerala to award the contract were foiled. In the first attempt, Defence Ministry had denied clearance to a consortium of two Chinese companies and Mumbai-based Zoom Developers Pvt Ltd. In the second instance, the State Government had selected Lanco Kondappally Power Pvt Ltd, but they had backed out at a later stage.
On Monday, the bid opening committee had opened the financial proposals of a consortium of Welspun Infratech, Welspun Corp and Leighton India. The consortium has sought ` 479.54 crore as grant from the State Government over a period of 16 years. A final decision has to be taken by the Cabinet.
According to Surendran Pillai, the fact that only two companies had bid for the project after 12 were shortlisted by the Government also was suspect.