Former Kerala Minister arrested in graft case

Kochi: The state Vigilance Department on Wednesday arrested the former PWD Minister and senior legislator of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) V.K. Ebrahim Kunju in the Palarivattom flyover collapse case.

He was arrested from the hospital where he had been admitted a day earlier.

Earlier in the day, the Vigilance department sleuths raided Kunju’s house. His wife informed them that he was admitted in a private hospital, but unconvinced by her reply, the police entered the house and searched the house.

Later, the sleuths reached the private hospital where he was undergoing treatment and recorded his arrest.

Kunju has earlier been questioned a few times by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) over a case of graft in the construction of the Palarivattom flyover, which was ordered to be rebuilt and the work has commenced.

He is named as the fifth accused in the case.

Built at a cost of Rs 42 crore during former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s regime, the 750-metre flyover was supposed to last for over 100 years. It was opened in October 2016 and within three years the flyover started crumbling and had to be closed.

The flyover was built by the Delhi-based RDS Projects for the state-owned Roads and Bridges Development Corporation. KITCO was the supervision consultant for the project.

Kunju, was the Minister when the faulty flyover was constructed.

Already four arrests have been made in this case and after being in jail, all the four were released on bail.

Those arrested earlier included the project director Sumit Goyal of the RDS Projects, former Public Works Department Secretary T.O. Sooraj, Benny Paul who represented the KITCO, and M.T. Thankachen from the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation.

Sources say that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has been cornered on all fronts in various scams and allegations, has decided to take the fight into the opposition camp now.

Vijayan has been facing the heat ever since his secretary and senior IAS official M.Sivasankar, presently under judicial custody after the Enforcement Directorate arrested him on October 29. Besides this case, the son of CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan — Bineesh Kodiyeri — was also arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act by the ED and is now in the custody of the Narcotics Control Bureau in Bengaluru.

Balakrishnan, had to relinquish the post last week, after the Congress and the BJP agitated seeking Balakrishnan and Vijayan’s resignation.

The top CPI-M leadership, including the current secretary and also the Left front convenor A.Vijayaraghavan have been dropping enough hints that a few arrests of the top opposition legislators was on the cards.

Vijayan could be in more trouble as the opposition has decided to go hammer and tongs against him in the upcoming local body polls to be held in three phases starting December 8.

Senior Congress legislator P.T. Thomas said the action against Ebrahim was part of the tactics of the Vijayan government to settle scores. He said the ruling party has been driven to the wall, in the various scams and allegations, which are being probed by various national agencies.