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Opinion

Former Kerala Minister Arrested In Hospital In Raised Graft Case

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Kerala’s anti-corruption and surveillance bureau arrested former public works department minister VK Ebrahim Kunju on Wednesday 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 at a hospital after surveillance officers met with doctors treating him. For now, he will remain in the hospital, authorities said.

Early in the morning, investigators raided his home in Aluva in Kochi. Kunju was previously booked by the surveillance department after serious irregularities were found in the construction of the Palarivattom flyover.

The overpass that was completed in 2016 was built at a cost of Rs 47.7 crore on the National Highway 66 Bypass. It was closed to traffic in May after cracks appeared in some of the piers and beams. Later, engineering experts at IIT-Madras discovered that its design was flawed and poor quality materials were used to build the 750-meter-long bridge.

The government then approached Metro Man E Sreedharan and also favored the demolition of the overpass to build a new one. Now the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is rebuilding the flyover under Sreedharan’s supervision.

The surveillance department recorded a case that arrested former PWD secretary TO Sooraj and three other people in August in connection with alleged wrongdoing. After his arrest, Sooraj, a controversial IAS officer, said he became a scapegoat. Although Kunju was questioned a couple of times, he was released. Sooraj is now out on bail.

The other three who were arrested along with Sooraj were Sumii Goyal, Image Director of the construction company RDS Projects Ltd, Benny Paul de Kitco, Technical Consultant and PD Thankacchan of GM of Roads and Birdges Development Corporation of Kerala

Kunju’s arrest on Wednesday has sparked controversy. The opposition Congress and the Muslim League said it was politically motivated and intended to divert attention from the gold smuggling and drug cases. “It was a politically motivated movement. The government, which is neck-deep in corruption, wanted to save its face in some way, ”said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.

But the CPI (M) secretary of state, A Vijayaraghavan, said the arrest was a natural process after the investigation.

The faulty overflight also sparked a blame game between the UDF opposition and the ruling LDF (Left Democratic Front). The ruling coalition said the previous government was responsible for the disaster, but the UDF claimed that the current dispensation had awarded the certificate of fitness and inaugurated the overpass with much fanfare.

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