Kerala CM clarifies on choice of firm for e-mobility project

Thiruvananthapuram, June 29 (PTI): Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday denied the allegations by Opposition Congress Leader Ramesh Chennithala that the ruling LDF government had decided to award consultancy of e-mobility project to a private firm by allegedly violating norms.

The chief minister said the company was empanelled under the National Informatics Centre Services Inc (NICSI).

'The companyagainst whichthe Opposition Leader has raised allegation was empanelled under the NICSI and the company has been engaged in consulting services for the defence ministry and ICMR, among others,' he said.

Vijayan said the Transport Department's order on February 20, 2020 mentioned that three companies were appointed as consultants for bus ports while PriceWaterhouseCoopers was consultants for the logistics ports of the electric vehicle production ecosystem.

'An amount of Rs 2.15 crore (excluding tax) for each bus port, Rs 2.09 crore (excluding tax) for logistic port and Rs 82 lakhs for e-mobility was allocated,' he said.

Importantly, he said, the procedures were followed while allocating the funds and the final decision on the file came after a review by the Department of Transportation, Planning and Finance.

Also, the Chief Minister refuted the charge that the contract was given to a company under investigation of theSecurities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

'This is a baseless allegation. ThePricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt Ltd is not banned by SEBI. The ban is on Pricewaterhouse Company, an auditing firm, which is entirely a different legal entity,' he said.

Vijayan made it clear that the samePricewaterhouse Company was entrusted with the auditing of the AgustaWestland Helicopter deal during the former Prime Minister's regime.

The Opposition Leader has levelled the allegation but was silent that both the companies are two different legal entities, he said.

The e-mobility is a policy framed by the Left government and we are committed to implement that, Vijayan said.

The Chief Minister said the state government aims to introduce at least 10 lakhelectricvehicles by 2022 and the policy was formulatedas per the opinion ofMadras-IIT professor Ashok Junjunwal.

The Congress leader had launched an attack on decision to award the consultancy of e-mobility project to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) saying no tenders had been issued by the government before hiring the London headquartered company for preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the project.

'This was a gross violation of existing norms and therefore illegal,' he had said.