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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Heated debate over road works

Special Correspondent


Fronts trade charges over responsibility for losses

Isaac rejects Chandy's demand for judicial probe


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Opposition boycotted the fag end of the sitting in the Assembly on Monday after a heated debate with Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac over who was responsible for losses under the Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP) and Thiruvananthapuram City Improvement Programme.

The Finance Minister said that the failure of the previous UDF-led government to acquire land for the projects in time was the major reason for delays and increase in costs.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, who was then the Chief Minister, contended that Dr. Isaac had stalled the projects on assumption of power by the LDF, alleging corruption.

Dr. Isaac rejected the demand of Mr. Chandy for a judicial probe to fix responsibility for the losses upon which the latter announced that he was leading a walkout.

The Opposition did not return until the House rose for the day after passing the demands for grants for Agriculture Income Tax and Sales Tax, Public Works and other heads.

The Finance Minister was replying to the debate on the demands for grants during which Opposition had contended that the Minister had caused a loss of Rs.210 crore.

Dr. Isaac countered that the Finance Department had found fault with the PWD Department of the UDF government allowing an annuity totalling Rs.530 crore to the contractors for a work estimated to cost Rs.105 crore when Mr. Chandy was the Chief Minister.

Dr. Isaac admitted that there had been delay in land acquisition under the present government also. However, 95 per cent of the required land had been acquired.

He challenged Mr. Chandy to prove that his department had held up money for land acquisition for the city project. Mr. Chandy or his representative could go through the files with him. He said that while the contractors for the KSTP continued to make compensation claims for each failure of the government during the UDF rule, the government had failed to make counter-claims.

The extension of project period granted by the government led to its forfeiting the claims.

A Vigilance inquiry was on to find out who aided the contractors disregarding the advice of the Finance Department regarding payments and caused additional expenditure. The contractors could successfully win part of their claims on arbitration.

Opposition stance

Mr. Chandy said that the Finance Minister was admitting that the government suffered a loss of Rs.205 crore. The projects had never been stalled during the UDF rule while the LDF government had not been able to complete them even after four years of rule.

He said that the previous government had completed works on 14 km of city roads. Money had been allocated for acquisition of land needed for development of 21 kilometres. Neither the UDF government nor the LDF government could acquire land needed for the remaining seven kilometres.

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