KOCHI: The Vigilance probe into corruption in Palarivattom flyover construction revealed that former PWD secretary TO Sooraj dissuaded other contractors from participating in tendering process, citing fund crunch, thereby helping RDS Project Ltd to attain the contract. The probing agency also relied on the report from National Highway Laboratory revealing that 40 per cent less raw materials were used for the construction of the flyover. According to a top Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau officer, there were several irregularities in the tendering procedure.
As PWD secretary, Sooraj was also heading Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB) which funded the project. “After the project was sanctioned during the UDF Government’s tenure in 2013, a pre-tender meeting with contractors was called by Sooraj. For dissuading contractors from bidding for the project, Sooraj declared that no amount as Mobilisation Advance would be given for the project. Usually, contractors depend on Mobilisation Advance to start construction work.
With no such fund, all contractors backed out from the tendering procedure,” he said. With no major construction company bidding for the Palarivattom flyover work, RDS Project Ltd easily attained the contract for the project. “However, after the contract was awarded in 2014, Sooraj withdrew his previous decision. RDS Project Ltd was granted Rs 6.5 crore as Mobilisation Advance. Even KITCO and RBDCK were aware of this corruption,” he said.
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According to the investigation agency, RDS Project Ltd was in financial crisis and the work was undertaken to raise the fund. M T Thankachan, former RBDCK AGM, manipulated RBDCK’S bid opening register to facilitate RDS’s entry to get the contract. Benny Paul as the Joint General Manager of KITCO did not evaluate the technical bid submitted by RDS which lacked sufficient documents. On the other hand, the construction work carried out by RDS was well below the quality standard.
The samples collected from the flyover tested at National Highway Laboratory revealed that 40 per cent less raw materials were used for the concreting work. “We had collected samples from six girders of which four were found well below the required standard. Similarly, samples from two pier and two pier caps revealed that they were also constructed using less raw materials. Even KITCO and RBDCK officials were aware that construction work was improper. However, they conspired with the contractor and allowed the work to continue,” an official said.