KOCHI: Alleging widespread corruption of over Rs 1,000 cr in KSEB’s TransGrid project funded by Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), Congress MLA V D Satheesan has demanded a detailed investigation into the matter. He stated that the discrepancies were found in four phases and claimed the KSEB intentionally increased the estimate to favour the contractors.
“Usually, KSEB fixes the tender rates based on the Public Works Department’s scheduled rate and obtains approval from the Electricity Regulatory Commission. The board appointed a chief engineer exclusively for TransGrid project and increased the estimated amount up to 80 per cent. The corruption took place in 12 projects of the first phase of TransGrid worth Rs 4,572 cr,” said Satheesan.
The changes made in the pre-qualification conditions killed the competitive nature of tender and favoured a few major players, he alleged.
“The multi-national contractors who took part in the tender formed a cartel and further increased the tender amount. As per norms, if the tender amount goes beyond 10 per cent of the estimate, KSEB has to re-tender the project. If it occurs again, the board needs to re-estimate the project before the tender. But the board has violated the government order and awarded project at an escalated amount,” he said.
He cited the escalation in cost of a TransGrid project being executed in Kottayam and Thrissur districts from Rs 130 cr to Rs 210 cr.
“The KSEB which is supposed to list an estimate of Rs 130 cr, increased 60 per cent of the amount to Rs 210 cr. It later awarded the project to L&T which quoted Rs 339.50 cr as the tender amount which resulted in a loss of Rs 210 for the board. Similarly, it has increased the estimate of three projects in Malabar to Rs 240 cr and awarded the contract to Sterlite Power by enhancing the amount to 372.42 cr,” said Satheesan.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman also pointed out the appointment of a retired KSEB official, who looked after the tender process, as the consultant of a private agency which scrutinises the KIIFB projects.
“Despite appointing an officer with a monthly salary of Rs 2.8 lakh, the government agency has awarded the responsibility to a private agency by giving Rs 8 crore. All these actions point towards the need for an effective audit by CAG into the activities of KIIFB,” he added.
Earlier, KSEB had countered the allegations levelled by Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on the project and said that the tenders were floated transparently.