Bureaucrat's letter on Sreedhanar's role raises stink

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 21, 2012 17:31 hrs

Kochi, Oct 21 (IANS) The Kerala cabinet meeting Monday is likely to take a tough line on the bureaucrat who in a letter on the proposed Kochi Metro Rail Ltd. (KMRL) project sought clarification from union Urban Development secretary Sudhir Krishna on E. Sreedharan's role in the project.

The government is expected to take a serious view of the matter since Tom Jose, the bureaucrat who wrote the letter, had been transferred from the post of KMRL managing director in August. He wrote the letter Sep 26 when he had already assumed charge as managing director of the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation.

The letter was released to the media by Rajya Sabha member P. Rajeev of the CPI-M Saturday. Since then, tongues have been wagging about the "orchestrated move by both the state and the centre to see that Sreedharan is booted out of this project".

"The state government must clarify how Jose could write a letter like this, when he no longer had a role in the project," Rajeev said.

Last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone for the project and eyebrows were raised when Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V.S. Achuthanandan was absent from the function.

The Rs.5,180 crore mega project is expected to be finished in three years. Sreedharan, the famous Delhi Metro man, is the live wire behind this project.

The Kochi Metro Rail project has been in the pipeline for the past six years, and is planned in the 26-km stretch between Tripunithura and Aluva, which would ease the traffic congestion in Kochi city. The track is planned to come up on elevated tracks.

Angered by Jose's letter, State Minister for Power Aryadan Mohammed, who is in charge of this project, said if such a letter was indeed written, it would attract disciplinary action.

"This is a serious issue, we will look into it," Mohammed told reporters.

Congress legislator T.N. Prathapan said the official should be suspended from service.

"The state government should order a probe into this and see if this is part of a larger conspiracy," Prathapan said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by state ministers T. Radhakrishnan, K. Babu and V.K. Ibrahim Kunju.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he will look into the issue and meet Sreedharan to discuss it Wednesday.

Marxist leader and Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, who had earlier alleged that Jose was playing foul games, reiterated his charges as the letter controversy broke out.

"This is nothing but a concerted attempt to oust Sreedharan, so corruption will rule supreme in this big project. And now I hope all will know the reason why I did not take part in the foundation stone laying programme," Achuthanandan said.

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