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Flyover case: Sooraj's claim wrong, says Vigilance

Flyover case: Soorajs claim wrong, says Vigilance

Kochi: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, probing alleged corruption in construction of a flyover here, informed the Kerala High Court on Tuesday that a retired bureaucrat's claim of then minister V K Ebrahim Kunju sanctioning release of interest-free funds to the contractor was "wrong".

"This claim of the petitioner is wrong," the Vigilance and Corruption Bureau said in a statement, opposing the bail applications filed by former IAS officer T O Sooraj and three others, arrested by the VCB in connection with the case last month.

Justice Sunil Thomas posted the bail application for Friday for consideration.

Sooraj and three others were arrested on August 30 by the state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau for alleged corruption in the construction of the flyover.

In his bail plea, Sooraj claimed it was the then public works minister V K Ebrahim Kunju who accorded sanction for releasing an interest-free mobilisation advance of Rs 8.25 crore to the contracting company for building the flyover in Palarivattom here.

In a relief to Kunju, the Vigilance said it was on the basis of the recommendation of Sooraj, as state PWD secretary, that the then minister ordered release of the advance.

"The minister has commented nothing regarding the interest in the note. He has not given any direction to charge interest or not to charge interest," it said.

"As the minister did not mention anything about the interest, the PWD secretary could have asked for a clarification," the Vigilance Bureau added.

"But instead of doing so, he fixed the interest at 7 per cent p.a. and thereby, gave a chance to the contractor to get 8.25 crore at a meagre interest rate," it added.

The Vigilance, however, submitted that the role of the then PWD minister was under close scrutiny. The department had recently interrogated Kunju, who is also an MLA, in connection with the case.

In its statement, the Vigilance said the investigation proved that RDS Project Ltd managing director Sumeet Goyal conspired with former AGM RBDCK M T Thankachan, Joint General Manager KITCO and former PWD secretary Sooraj to cheat the public exchequer by not properly utilising the allotted money for construction of the flyover.

They also misappropriated the funds for their pecuniary advantage which ultimately led to poor condition of the structure.

Meanwhile, in another case related to the flyover construction, a division bench of the court directed the government not to demolish the structure till October 10.

It gave the direction on a writ plea challenging the Kerala government's decision to rebuild the flyover.

Earlier, the government had said the construction of the new bridge would commence by October and the work was expected to be completed in a year's time.

In his plea, P Varghese Cherian sought a direction to restrain the government from demolishing or reconstructing the flyover without first conducting a load test to assess its structural stability as per Bureau of Indian Standards norms.

The flyover was closed for traffic from May 1 after it started developing cracks within three years of being built.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had ordered a vigilance probe into the construction of the 750-metre-long flyover, which was inaugurated in October 2016.

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