The Kerala vigilance and anti-corruption bureau on Wednesday arrested former public works department minister V K Ebrahim Kunju in connection with alleged irregularities in the construction of a flyover in Kochi.
Kunju (68), a Muslim MLA MLA from Kalamssery in Ernakulam district was arrested from a hospital after vigilance officials met the doctors treating him. For now, he will remain in hospital, officials said.
Earlier In the morning, investigators raided his house in Aluva in Kochi. Kunju was earlier booked by the vigilance department after serious irregularities were found in the construction of the Palarivattom flyover.
The flyover which was completed in 2016 was built at a cost of Rs 47.7 crore on National Highway 66 Bypass. It was closed for traffic in May after cracks appeared in some of the pillars and girders. Later engineering experts from IIT-Madras found that its design was faulty and low-quality materials were used to build the 750-metre long bridge.
The government then approached Metro Man E Sreedharan and he also favoured demolition of the flyover to build a new one. Now the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is rebuilding the flyover under the supervision of Sreedharan.
A case was registered by the vigilance department which arrested former PWD secretary TO Sooraj and three others in August in connection with alleged irregularities. After his arrest Sooraj, a controversial IAS officer, said he was made a scapegoat. Though Kunju was interrogated a couple of times he was let off. Sooraj is now out on bail.
The three others who were arrested along with Sooraj were Sumii Goyal, maging director of construction firm RDS Projects Ltd, Benny Paul of Kitco, technical consultant and P D Thankacchan of GM of Roads and Birdges Development Corporation of Kerala
Kunju’s arrest on Wednesday has kicked off a controversy. The opposition Congress and Muslim League said it was politically motivated and was intended to distract attention from the gold smuggling and drug cases. “It was a politically motivated move. The government which is neck deep in corruption wanted to save its face somehow,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
But CPI(M) state secretary A Vijayaraghavan said the arrest was a natural process after the investigation.
The faulty flyover also triggered a blame game between the opposition UDF and ruling LDF (Left Democratic Front). The ruling coalition said the previous government was responsible for the mess but the UDF claimed the present dispensation had given the fitness certificate and inaugurated the flyover with much fanfare.
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