Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 1 (UNI) Seen as a major political decision ahead of the Assembly polls expected in May, the Kerala Government today decided to hand over to the CBI the controversial SNC Lavalin case relating to the lapses in award of contracts for renovation of three hydro electric power projects to the Canadian company during the tenure of CPI(M) State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan as Power Minister a decade ago.
Vigilance Director Upendra Verma was also shunted out of the department a day after the investigating agency filed an FIR in the court without naming any politician in the list of accused.
''The Vigilance filed the FIR in the court before the government applied its mind on the issue,'' Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told newspersons here after a meeting of the State Cabinet.
Such a step from the Vigilance was highly unfortunate, he said adding it was in this circumstance the government decided to hand over the case to the CBI.
He said Mr Sukumaran Nair would be the new Vigilance director, while Mr Verma would be given the post of Chairman and Managing Director of the Keltron.
The recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, which found serious lapses in the awarding of the contract, had triggered a major political controversy with the Congress urging the Oommen Chandy Government to take action against Mr Vijayan.
The CAG pointed out the Ministerial delegation which entered into negotiations had not even considered the fact that SNC Lavalin was only a consultant intermediary and not the original equipment manufacturer. The contracts were finally signed with ''undue haste without ascertaining the reasonableness of prices.'' ''There were deviations from prescribed procedures in selection of Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniyar hydro electric power projects for renovation and in the award of contract to SNC Lavalin,'' the report said.
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