Congress in Kerala today accused the LDF government of creating ‘a smokescreen’ of graft over the Vizhinjam seaport project awarded to the Adani group and dared it to scrap the project if indeed there was corruption. The CPI-M led government was creating a ‘smokescreen’ of corruption only for ‘political gains’, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President M M Hassan told reporters here after a Political Affairs Committee meeting of the KPCC. The Rs 7,525 crore Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport project, taken up by the state government, has come under a cloud after some adverse findings by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). In its report tabled in the state assembly recently, the CAG has observed that interests of Kerala were not protected in the agreement inked with Gujarat-based Adani Ports and SEZ Private Ltd for implementing the project. The LDF government has already ordered a probe by a retired judge of the Kerala high court in the light of the CAG findings but made it clear that it would go ahead with the project irrespective of the controversies. Raising questions over the stand, Hassan said: “While on the one hand the government has raised corruption allegations against the project, it was going ahead with it. This shows the government’s double standards'” Hassan said. He also claimed that the CAG report was “not based on facts” and added former chief minister Oommen Chandy, during whose term the project agreement was signed, had already written to the CAG against the findings.
The project should be scrapped if corruption was involved and a new project can be implemented. There were clauses in this regard in the agreement, Hassan pointed out. Vizhinjam was a dream project of the state which was implemented by the previous UDF government nearly 25 years after it was first mooted.Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had recently made it clear that if there was any corruption it would be probed. Inaugurating the construction work of the Port’s berth, he, however, had said the probe would in no way affect the project work and it would be completed on a war footing. Replying to a question, Hassan said Congress membership drive in the state had ended and the district units were in the process of preparing the initial list.