It's been over 40 days since Paulose Thomas, an expert consultant for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), was found dead in his apartment in Coimbatore. His family was first told that he had suffered a cardiac arrest. Then they were informed that he had hanged himself. But the autopsy report ruled out suicide or cardiac arrest, confirming a case of murder instead.
As team leader for Intercontinental Consultants and Technocrats (ICT), Thomas, 68, was entrusted by the NHAI to oversee the quality of work on the four/ six-laning of NH 47, from Chengapalli near Coimbatore to Walayar on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. The nearly Rs 1,000-crore project is being undertaken by infrastructure firm IVCRL Chengapalli Tollway Ltd on design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis for a concession period of 27 years.
Thomas’s family members have alleged that his death could be connected to the project. His son, Dr Suraj Thomas, a surgeon in London, drew parallels with the case of Satyendra Dubey, the NHAI engineer who was killed in Bihar in 2003 after he blew the whistle on irregularities in the Golden Quadrilateral highway project.
“The night before his death, my father tried to contact the manager four times, but his calls went unanswered. Perhaps he saw something suspicious in some file. I am sure there was some business motive to the murder, as in the case of Satyendra Dubey. The police should look at the bills and other contract-related documents before and after my father’s murder,” said Suraj, alleging the involvement of his father’s colleagues.
Thomas, a Kerala State Public Works Department engineer who retired in 1998, had joined ICT about 18 months ago. On December 11, at about 11:30 am, his family in Muvattupuzha, in Ernakulam district, Kerala, received a call from a colleague, identified as Ravindran, saying that he had been found unconscious in his apartment.
The family members were told that Thomas was suspected to have suffered a cardiac arrest, and that he had complained of chest pain when he left office the previous day. They were told that Thomas’s driver had called him in the