Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday denied humiliating Metroman E Sreedharan and blamed the Centre for the delay in the taking off of key Metro projects in Kerala.
Speaking in the assembly Vijayan said that none should doubt his regard for Sreedharan's credentials.
The only reason for the state government not acting at the speed that the Metroman wished was because it did not have the required funds for the Light Metro projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.
Vijayan was responding to the Congress' criticism in the assembly which slammed him for causing Sreedhran's and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's (DMRC) exit from the state, following the Chief Minister's non-responsive attitude towards the technocrat and his requests for meeting.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on Friday led an opposition walkout after slamming Vijayan for sending a "wrong message to probable investors considering to invest in Kerala" by his callous attitude toward's the Light Metro projects.
The Chief Minister, however, said: "The reason why there has been a delay in the Light Metro is that last year the Centre came out with a new Metro policy.
"The only hitch today and the delay in this project is we cannot go forward without getting the sanction from the Centre.
"If we had Rs 1278 crore to spare with us, we would have not waited for the clearance from the Centre. If the Centre clears this project, then they would bring in Rs 1278 crore.
"Since we do not have that much money to spare, we have now asked a high level committee here to do a complete working to see the financial viability of the Light Metro project."
"Once that comes and the clearance from the Centre comes, we will go forward with the project and there is no question that the project has been shelved," said Vijayan.
On Thursday, a peeved Sreedharan had gone public and said that the Kerala government has failed to sign an agreement with the DMRC even 14 months after it was awarded a project and hence they are exiting from Kerala.
K Karunakaran's son K Muraleedharan had sought leave for an adjournment motion to discuss the manner in which Vijayan had humiliated Sreedharan.
"Being a Lok Sabha member years back, I saw the speed at which the Delhi Metro was built and made operational. It was Sreedharan who was instrumental in building the Konkan Rail and for a person who has done such a huge project, putting up a Light Metro in two of our cities is child's play.
"The whole world is convinced of Sreedharan, but you (Vijayan) have doubts about his capability."
The Congress also reminded Vijayan of his protest a few years back in Kochi, when news reports surfaced that the then Oommen Chandy government was not keen to appoint Sreedharan for the Kochi Metro project.