Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday said his government would not abandon the Vizhinjam sea port project because of the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India that the pact signed by the previous Congress government with developer Adani Ports and SEZ Private Limited was against the interests of the state.
The state cabinet ordered a judicial probe into the deal after the CAG report said many conditions in the project were tailored to benefit Adani Ports and SEZ Private Limited at the cost of the state.
Speaking after flagging off the construction of a berth at the port site, Vijayan said the judicial probe would not affect the project. “If the probe finds discrepancies in the project, the government will take stringent action. The government wants to complete this project in a manner that will benefit local people. The project cannot be abandoned on the basis of an allegation,’’ he said.
The CAG report, tabled in the Assembly on Tuesday, said the port deal would allow undue benefits to the developer-cum-operator, Adani Group, to the tune of Rs 29,000 crore. The report said that of the total project cost of Rs 7,525 crore, the Adani Group needed to invest only Rs 2,454 crore. The rest of the cost would be borne by the state and the central governments.
It said while the standard concession period for public-private partnership projects has been pegged at 30 years, in the Vizhinjam project, the concessionaire was given another 10 years, in a manner helping the private developer (Adani Group) to reap an additional revenue of Rs 29,127 crore. “In spite of the 67 per cent investment by the state government, the net present value (NPV) of its investment in the project is -Rs 3,866.33 crore. At the same time, the net present value accrued to the concessionaire for 40 years with 33% investment is Rs 607.19 crore,’’ said the CAG report.
Former CM and CPM veteran V S Achuthanandan demanded the ongoing construction be suspended till the final outcome of the judicial probe. In a letter to Vijayan, he said the judicial probe should look into any conspiracy behind the deal.
Within the Congress, whose government inked the deal with Adani Group, a section of leaders wanted the party to debate the issue. Former state Congress chief V M Sudheeran was prompt to demand a probe into the project following findings in the CAG report. Former CM Oommen Chandy welcomed the probe. “An impartial probe will put an end to all controversies,’’ he said.