Palarivattom flyover: Vigilance to summon former Minister Ibrahim Kunju

Palarivattom flyover: Vigilance to summon former Minister Ibrahim Kunju

Agency News

The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) will question former Public Works Minister and IUML legislator V.K. Ebrahim Kunju in connection with the flyover construction scam at Palarivattom in Kochi soon.

The VACB has already to an authorisation by the Governor to prosecute Mr. Kunju. It is likely to summon him for questioning when the Assembly concludes its Budget session.

It wants to examine whether he had illegally channelled public funds to unduly aid the private firm responsible for the shoddy construction of the now decommissioned Palarivattom flyover. Palarivattom flyover has been closed after finding cracks developed on several parts of the bridge.

The arrest of former Public Works Secretary T. Sooraj in August 2019 had brought the probe to Mr. Kunju's doorstep. It marked a turning point in the case that caused a groundswell of public anger. Mr. Sooraj told investigators that Mr. Kunju had ordered the release of ₹9 crore in advance to the private builder as ‘mobilisation fund’ at a nominal rate of interest much less than that charged by nationalised banks. He pointed out the advance payment was outside the terms of the contract and illegal.

The VACB told the High Court later that the questionable ‘advance credit’ to the construction firm on terms favouring the private entity had caused the State exchequer an estimated loss of over ₹60 lakh.

The VACB has also found that PWD officials had fast-forwarded the payment of work bills submitted by the firm, allegedly overlooking reports from PWD supervisors warning against the low-grade nature of the construction.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kunju has sought to take defence behind the argument that as Minister, he could not possibly examine the quality and amount of concrete and steel used in the construction at the field level daily.