THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a shocking conspiracy, contractors and Kerala State Electricity Board engineers have colluded to siphon off Rs 3.5 crore by misleading the government that extra work was carried out on the Kuttiar diversion scheme (Idukki augmentation scheme) during the period 2004 –06.
While politicians in the state are using the raging SNC Lavalin controversy for political gains, documents available with the ‘Express’ expose one of the biggest-ever frauds that took place in the history of the KSEB which started with a secret meeting of the then chief engineer (civil construction), the project manager and contractors at a hotel in Kottayam on February 6, 2004.
The site meetings which were convened later to take a decision on extra works were attended by the then chief engineer and now generation member K K Karuppan Kutty, project manager Vinod P Prabhakar, assistant executive engineer Jessy Antony, assistant engineer Mathew Antony, assistant engineer Beenamol James and contractors Sasi Eloor and Raju M. Itty.
As per the original conspiracy, it was decided to unnecessarily increase the quantity of excavation by increasing the depth of the foundation by an additional eight metres. This would also have increased the requirement of concrete to fill up the excavated portion. Following complaints, the Chairman instructed the chief engineer (IPDS), chief engineer (civil construction) and deputy chief engineer (designs) that the change in the design or any proposal to deepen the foundation of the diversion weir should not be done without obtaining the prior approval of the Board.
After an on-the-spot inspection on March 13, 2004, experts informed the Board that no differences were noticed which required a serious change in the design of the dam. The Board then decided to wind up any move to change the design. Then all of a sudden, on January 16, 2006, the chief of generation who was formerly chief engineer – civil construction, placed a note before the full-time members for extension of the period of contract for the project. It was casually mentioned in the note that there were extra items in the weir work and 11 extra items in the tunnel work.
The total financial commitment for the extra items was Rs 1.78 crore and excess quantities worth Rs 1.70 crore. While examining the proposal, it was found to the surprise of the Board that quantities of common excavation had exceeded enormously from 7,010 cubic metres to 17,500 cubic metres and rock excavation from 1,280 cubic metres to 4,300 cubic metres. It was also noticed that extra items were executed without obtaining clearance from the Board. Much more shocking was that the excess expenditure itself amounted to 40 percent of the total project cost.