The Opposition on Wednesday messed up Assembly proceedings alleging corruption in a decision of the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) to scrap a construction work MoU with BSNL.
Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan demanded a judicial investigation into the matter, and the mayhem which followed prompted the Speaker to temporarily adjourn the proceedings. Replying to Opposition allegations, Animal Husbandry Minister K P Mohanan swept aside the corruption charge.
He said that the MoU was cancelled on the advice of KVASU engineers and in the ‘’larger interests’’ of the university. The university had not awarded any work contract to the BSNL, but merely signed an MoU, he said. But the Minister had no clear answer as to why the criteria for the contractors were revised.
CPI’s V S Sunil Kumar, who moved the adjournment motion on the issue, said that the original criteria sought contractors who had been in the field for a minimum of 15 years and experience of having undertaken projects over Rs 100 crore. This was clandestinely revised to 10 years and 30 years respectively, allegedly to help vested interests.
The tender criteria were revised after the tendering procedures were completed, which was illegal, Sunil Kumar said.
Besides, BSNL has already undertaken Kerala government projects to the tune of Rs 350 crore and on the same conditions, he said. This included a sports stadium (Rs 110 crore), a Rs 25-crore project for the MG University, a Rs 23-crore project for ANERT, a Rs 56-crore project for INKEL and Rs 25-crore work for the Gulati Institute.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, in an attempt to defend the Animal Husbandry Minister, said the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) norms said that the same company could not act as consultant and work contractor, the reason why the MoU was scrapped.
Deputy Opposition Leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan demanded to know why the criteria were changed.
Chandy replied that it was done on the recommendation of KVASU officials and to protect the interests of the university.
Chandy also added that the project would be implemented transparently. V S Achuthanandan termed Chandy’s reply unsatisfactory and that he was engaged in a futile attempt to defend K P Mohanan. He demanded a judicial inquiry into the issue, and a few minutes later announced a walk-out.
This, however, ended in confusion as by then, the Opposition members had stormed forward and began shouting slogans without exiting the hall.
A few seconds later, Speaker G Karthikeyan declared the proceedings temporarily adjourned.