The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is to probe the corruption charge in Rs 256-crore pollution control plant at the Travancore Titanium Products established during the regime of Ommen Chandy way back in 2005. The decision of the State Government to hand over the probe to the central agency would see Chandy and his then Industries Minister Ebrahim Kunju be interrogated by the CBI.
The latter is already facing charges in the Palarivattom flyover case where the structure developed cracks six months after it was built. Already, a top bureaucrat has been taken into custody and Kunju, then Public Works Minister in the previous UDF regime, is being quizzed by vigilance officials. The Titanium case pertains to the corruption in the proposal to set up a pollution control plant during 2004-2006.
The vigilance had found that the government had sustained a huge loss in connection with the Rs 256-crore deal. The vigilance had found six top officials, including the then chairman T Balakrishnan of Travancore Titanium Products Ltd, involved in the graft. It had even sought the help of international agencies as equipment was also bought from abroad. The plant was sanctioned on directives from Supreme Court and Kerala High Court for a system to check acid pollution from the Titanium plant.
The successive Left Democratic Front Government had scrapped the project after the implementing agency claimed cost overruns raising it to over Rs 400 crore. The Government had initiated a vigilance probe into the matter then and the High Court had issued notices to Chandy, Kunju and the then Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala which had then created a furore and there was Opposition demand for Chandy's resignation. The State Government has now said it was handing over the probe to CBI as some of the accused had international connections. Chandy responded immediately on Tuesday and told media persons that he was willing to face any probe.