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Tuesday, April 13, 1999

Brahmapuram deal -- Panel indicts ex-minister, top bureaucrats

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE  
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, APRIL 12: The Justice Bhaskaran Nambiar Commission, which inquired into various allegations of corruption related to Brahmapuram Diesel Power Plant contracts, held former power minister C V Padmarajan and several top bureaucrats responsible for the loss of Rs 75 crore to the State exchequer.

Justice Bhaskaran Nambiar recommended a detailed probe to unravel the conspiracy element and the possible pecuniary advantages made by the former minister and other top bureaucrats in the deal. The Commission found that the minister flouted the business rules to ensure that the contract for the purchase of five diesel generators be given to SEMT Pieltick, a French private company, at an exorbitant rate and that too without going for global tenders. The main charge against the then power minister C V Padmarajan in this regard was that he issued a letter, approving the contract with the French company, without going into the crucial details of the contract.

The other officials indicted by theCommission are: former KSEB chairmen R Narayanan and R Sivadasan, former power secretary Arunkumar, former KSEB member M M Mathew Roy and former Chief Engineer C J Bertran Netto and former KSEB member Y R Moorthy.

The Commission found that KSEB suffered such a huge loss from four counts: awarding the contract for purchasing diesel engines to the French company without inviting global tenders, cost escalation without any specific reason, awarding the contract for erecting the machinery to Tata Projects Ltd and awarding the contract for excavation and levelling of land to a private contractor at an exorbitant rate.

The Commission found that power minister C V Padmarajan approved the MoU with the French company without getting the details of the conditions. Without this controversial `approval' the KSEB, would not have signed the contract with the French company.

The Commission, which had gathered both documentary and oral evidence, rejected the argument by the KSEB officials and the then ministers thatthe KSEB had signed an MoU with the French company it sold the Diesel engines at the rate fixed by the Karnataka Electricity Board for its Yelahanka Plant in 1986-87. This was the main reason cited by KSEB for avoiding global tenders. The Commission found that KSEB had suffered a loss of Rs 28.28 crore by awarding the contract to Pieltick Company without inviting tenders. The Commission indicted the then KSEB chairman R Narayanan for signing the MoU in France though he was not authorised to perform such an important task. The Commission which perused all the documents reached the conclusion that KSEB chairman R Sivadasan was overenthusiastic in awarding the contract to the French company.

It was found that the Board lost Rs 71.07 crore by way of awarding the contract to the French company without going for global tenders. The State lost Rs 1.35 crore by awarding the contract for erecting the machinery to Tata Projects Ltd. The Board rejected the claims of one of the two contractors who was alsopre-qualified in the contract. The Commission said KSEB chairman R Sivadasan, who was also the Accounts Member of Board and Mathew Roy, KSEB member (Electrical) were responsible for this selection and the subsequent loss to the exchequer.

Referring to the contract for the excavation and the leveling of 203 acres of land, the Commission pointed out that the KSEB had ignored the two contractors who quoted just 5 per cent and 7 per cent below the estimated cost and awarded the same to the contractor who quoted the estimated cost. Moreover, the contractor even failed to complete the work before the stipulated time, it said.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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